As with the same fixture last year, the Chobham 1st XV made the long trip down to Dover off the back of a disappointing loss and as the weather appeared to have turned for winter. It seems to be a new unwelcomed tradition that when Chobham head for the Kent coast they are greeted with strong winds, grey skies and heavy rain. The side however were focused on the job in hand of returning to winning ways in London 1 South and gaining their 4th win in the seasons opening 5 games.
After some early toing and throwing, in which Chobham looked the far brighter and more threatening of the two sides, it was Dover who scored first. After a sloppy lineout from the home team in a promising position, Chobham were unable to tidy and clear their lines which saw, after two offloads the Dover 8 crash over from close range, the Dover fly half added the extras, 7-0.
Having conceded early in the fixture last season Chobham were intent on hitting back sharply and quickly got back in to playing a way that challenged and stretched Dover from side to side which eventually paid dividends with James Dunne knocking over two excellent penalties to close the gap to just one point, 7-6 Dover. The home side however responded quickly with a penalty of their won to stretch their lead before Chobham were able to trouble the scorers with a five pointer. Young Mikey McDonald, who was a threat whenever he saw the ball, winning the foot race to Ben Sims’ toe through after a mistake from the hosts in the wide channel gave Dunne the opportunity to add an excellent 2 points from the sideline, 10-13. This is how it remain heading in to the interval. Having played up the huge slope at Dover for the first half, Coach Ryan Gregory was exceptionally pleased with the score line at the turn. The message at half time was that the slope, now in Chobham’s favour, was not going to win the game for us so it was important that the team returned to the pitch with same intensity and application as in the first half.
Relatively early in the second half Chobham were able to stretch their narrow lead through a third excellent struck penalty from Dunne at 10, before undergoing a sustained period of pressure from the home side. This period however bared just 3 points for the hosts off the back of a strange penalty awarded against the ferocious Chobham scrum which had dominated at all stages throughout the game, 13-16 with 20 to play, but Chobham were calm, controlled and confident of securing the victory. Chobham played the remainder of the game in the right area of the pitch, marshaled expertly by Ian Barnes at scrum half, and the set piece continued to dominate, the latter eventually bringing the final points of the game and securing the victory that the visitors deserved. Player/coach Gregory was able to control and then fall on the ball to score after the 7 other members of the Chobham pack had driven their Dover opposition over their own line, Dunne missing the conversion and the game finished 13-21.
Although it was far from pretty, all involved were ecstatic with the victory and happy to be back in winning ways ahead of next Saturdays local derby versus Guildford RFC.
Match report: Ryan Gregory