CHOBHAM 1st XV SPONSORED BY ALTIUS GROUP
Havant 22 : Chobham 25
The new season opened with Chobham making the trip down the A3 into Hampshire to take on Havant. This had the makings of a tricky opening fixture with Chob well beaten down on the south coast in a wet and wild February with the home team stringing some impressive results together during the latter part of last season. Balancing that was a good pre-season for Chobham and they came into the game confident on the back of on an unbeaten run of 6 league matches. The visitor’s team sheet showed 3 new faces. Starting in the back row was 18 year old George Matthews, another product of the Chobham junior production line. On the bench was new boy Jamie Evans and another 17 year old ex-junior player, Jake Dunne. Perfect conditions greeted the players.
Chobham started well, looking sharp with scrum half Ian Barnes pulling the strings. With the ball moved right to Liam Monaghan, Havant’s defence was stretched and the defensive tackle was missed to allow the wing man to open the scoring on 4 minutes. James Dunne added the extras. Havant 0 Chobham 7. Havant responded and quickly reduced the arrears with a well struck penalty from skipper Joel Knight. Havant 3 Chobham 7. This galvanised the visitors and with a strong scrum with props Lee Evans and Sonny Kuwana, causing all sorts of problems for the home side the pressure on the home team began to mount. On 20 minutes, hooker Adam Blemings took his second strike against the head and Barnes moved the ball into midfield. Showing good continuity, locks Dom Sammut and Ryan Gregory combined to open up the Havant defence. The ball was the moved wide and Harry Guy put left wing Josh Devitt into space to score a wonderful team try. Dunne’s conversion drifted wide. Havant 3 Chobham 12. On 34 minutes after a series of indiscretions from the home team, Dunne extended the lead, Havant 3 Chobham 15. Two minutes later following good work by Sammut, Devitt found himself in space and with a delicate chip ahead the Ulsterman hit the afterburners to make the touch down. Dunne’s conversion bisected the uprights. Half Time Havant 3 Chobham 22.
Skipper Tony Paul and head coach Gregory’s half time talk was simple, more of the same. Chobham had suffocated the home team denying them possession and space and this intensity needed to be maintained.
From the kick off it looked as though these words had been ignored as Chob immediately seemed to get on the wrong side of the match official Mr Marshall. The whistle blew regularly and penalties flowed, allowing Havant both possession and territory. On 58 minutes Mr Marshall ran out of patience with Chobham offenders and with the home crowd roaring their disapproval, flanker Tom King who with Angus Hamilton had been outstanding at the breakdown all afternoon, was sent to the naughty step for 10 minutes. From the lineout on 5 metres, the Havant pack launched an effective rumble and blind side Nick Goodyer emerged from under the pile to claim the try. Knight’s kick was wide. Havant 8 Chobham 22. On 60 minutes, a front row punch up flared and this time Mr Marshall waved his red card in the direction of Chobham front row replacement and debutant Jamie Evans and as well the home team’s prop. With both sides down to 14 men Havant launched a do or die effort to get back in the game. On 65 minutes a speculative cross kick was missed by the Chobham defence and the ball bounced kindly for replacement wing Nick Benjamin to touch down. Knight converted. Havant 15 Chobham 22. A James Dunne penalty on 74 minutes extended the visitor’s lead following a rare foray into the Havant 22. Havant 15 Chobham 25. However this was more than cancelled out on 78 minutes when a clearing kick from a defensive ruck was charged down and following a massive aerial scramble the ball ended up with Havant 9 Grant Morris who dived down to score. Knight added the extras. Havant 22 Chobham 25. With the players and the crowd almost out of gas, there was just time for the restart and Chobham closed the game out deep in the Havant half. Final score Havant 22 Chobham 25.
This was a pulsating game which was very much a tale of the proverbial two halves. With such an impressive first forty Chob know they missed an opportunity to take a bonus point but as they showed Havant are no pushover, particularly at home. The coaching team of Gregory and Paul, will have plenty to work on during the week, but it will feel good to have got off to winning start. Next up is newly promoted Twickenham at Fowler’s Wells. They had an outstanding opener, thumping Surrey aristocrats Cobham and so there will be plenty to motivate the Chobham squad come next Saturday.
Director of Rugby