It was one of those increasingly rare days for Chob U16s as they were pitted against a club who also a squad that could muster two sides. It was a trip up the A329 to Redingensians Rams and a first meeting since the dim and distant festival days. There is a connection with former Chob mini/junior/senior Alex Seers currently the starting fly half for the Bath Road club.
Rams took the kick-off and Chob were quickly into their stride with the back row combining well providing the platform to push the home side immediately back on the defensive. A strong chase earned a penalty for holding on leading to a lineout deep in the Rams red zone. The throw was won, albeit scrappily but the forwards regrouped quickly and a series of hits around the breakdown sucked in the defence and took play almost to the line. Then a neat wide pass from Gideon, with the defence expecting another pop to Oli, and MattN opened the scoring with only a few minutes on the clock.
In these early stages Chob were playing with the greater discipline and control and were quickly into Rams territory once more. Rams were unable to clear their lines and with advantage being played Tommy was inches from extending the lead only to be held up. The ref brought play back for the penalty. Quick as a flash Gideon played a teasing cross field kick for Harry on the far wing. He made no mistake and gathered safely to make the score 10-0.
This roused Rams and they began to show that they were a pretty good outfit too through strong rucking to force a Rams line in the Chob 25. Opting to shorten the line it seemed clear they were going to use the big loose head to bulldoze through in midfield, a tactic used on numerous occasions through the match. This they duly did but he was brought down pretty quickly by Fin and Chris, the visitors limiting this tactic pretty well through the course of the match. Rams clearly work this however as they were quick to recycle the ball and use the overlap it created to squeeze in just by the corner flag, reducing the arrears to 10-5.
It wasn’t that way for long as Chob worked back into the home 25. From an attacking line a text book move stretched the lead once more. A scrum-half loop on the 10 and the centres running tight lines a smart pass to fullback Jack sprinting into the space created wider out and crossing unopposed close enough in for Chris to add the extras and it was 17-5.
Rams rallied once more as the sides went toe to toe for the rest of the half. They started to pressure the Chob rucking and passing game, and shortly before the whistle forced a loose pass that the winger scooped up and outstripped the cover to reduce the lead to 17-10.
Chob had one final chance right on half-time with another well-judged cross kick but the Chob backs had been just too keen and were just offside.
The second period was a much tighter affair as Rams again were able to prevent Chob from creating any openings. The game started to get a little ragged with passes not going to hand as defence from both sides had the upper hand. Chob had to dig deep as Rams spent several minutes in the Chob 25, but as is frequently the case with these lads they found a way to keep the opposition out as they pounded away around the breakdown.
Second half deadlock was broken finally as Rams had a scrum 5 resulting from pressure on the Chob clearance. The home wing was able to cross over in the wide open spaces near the touchline and the score was level at 17-17.
Chob had a penalty for a high tackle but a little dissent resulted in a reversal. Rams missed touch however, something that happened more than once, and the clearing Chob kick was mishandled for a Chob scrum in the Rams half.
With the clock against both sides and a single score getting ever more likely to be the decider, neither side could get a significant edge, slight errors crept in on both sides.
Rams had a scrum around halfway as the clock ticked over into injury time. A forward set into midfield was recycled and the home 10 opted for a grubber kick behind the far winger. As the wide backs converged on the bouncing ball, Jack judged it to perfection and gathered safely. The defence was wrong-footed and he was into the space behind them. The home fullback was covering, but he managed to fix his man before using the 5 yard channel to win the race to the corner and the score was 22-17.
There was enough time for the restart gathered safely by Callum who was caught by a dangerous tackle in the desperation to win the ball back. It was then last play from the resulting line-out. A safe throw to the middle where Doug gathered cleanly was enough to seal the victory as the ball was punted off the paddock.
On the neighbouring pitch the second fixture ran concurrently with Chob running out deserved winners 34-17 after conceding an early first score. A result that demonstrates the depth of talent throughout the age group.
Chob played the better rugby and physically were the better side in both attack and defence. The new additions to the squad are quickly blending into the style of play the lads look to play. The six tries were shared between Andy, Akin, Finn, Harvey and MattW with Daniel and SamA adding the conversions.
A Squad: Jack, Rhys, Fin, Chris, Harry, George, Gideon, Dan, Charlie, Oli, Callum, Billy, Connor, Tommy, Matt, Doug, Ewen, Aran.
B Squad: Harvey, Ben, Finn, Max, Jools, Harrison, Teo, Saxon, Jack, Sammo, Danny, Jacob, Lewis, MattW, Andy, Daniel, SamA, Akin.
Written by Doug Mayger