It was back to the bread and butter of the fifteen man game for the Colts on Sunday, with a trip to Effingham & Leatherhead who have had the sign over Chobham in recent seasons. It would be interesting to see how the impacts of switching straight to Under 18 rugby and RFU restrictions on player game time over a weekend would affect Sunday fixtures.
Chobham were certainly keen to get into the E&L side as they were penalised for being in front of the kicker right from the get go. An attacking line drew a second penalty and E&L were 5 yards out in the blink of an eye. With the E&L coach calling the plays like American Football from the touch line the home side tried for a front peel lineout to one of their impact runners and Chobham had a scrum. Safe ball allowed the clearing kick but the wind was very much against Chob’ in the opening half and E&L were able to maintain pressure in and around the attacking 25-yard line.
E&L were struggling at the lineout and Chob’ managed to pinch another but apparently via a knock-on and the boys were under the pump again on their own line. E&L looked to move play one out from the ruck over several phases but Chob discipline around the goal line was top class and E&L could find no way through over several phases. Play moved across field and to the right of the posts where E&L finally tried to use the ball in the wider channels and went over for a 7-0 lead.
From the restart Chob were pinged again and E&L had territory and possession far too easily. E&L were unable to take advantage and the increasingly wet conditions weren’t favouring handling as Chob’, playing mainly without the ball, were able to put pressure on home ball carriers and force them back into their own half. More pressure brought about another handling error and Chob’ turned the ball over. With the home defence having to react a couple of passes left was enough for George to scoot round his man and score around the 15-yard line. A good conversion into the wind then brought the scores level at 7-7.
The game continued to play out mainly in the Chob’ half with clearing kicks struggling in the breeze, but the E&L back three weren’t confident under the high ball which helped Chob keep them at bay for a while. With most of the half over Chob’ were clinging to a 7-7 which would set them up well for the second period, but another penalty was their downfall as E&L barrelled in from close range and a conversion from wide out restored their 7 point lead.
In the final couple of minutes Andy managed a half break on the wing and Chob’ won a couple of penalties for themselves as they started to pressure E&L at the ruck who were forced to hang on in the tackle.
The second half began with E&L kicking to Chob’ who gallantly allowed the home side to try and grab it straight back but luckily a knock on led to a Chobham scrum. The clearing kick missed touch and E&L managed to return it back to the Cho’ 25 where they now won a penalty. Strangely for a friendly the home side decided to kick the three points, perhaps the Chob’ defence was starting to wear them down, but it did give them a 10-point advantage at 17-7.
Chob’, with the breeze now behind them, had the better of the territory now, but E&L still looked dangerous if Chob’ gave them an inch with one drive and skilful offloading took them into the Chob red zone.
The boys in blue were no mugs at working the ball in the tight spaces as the forwards made good ground driving close to the breakdown. Teo also reacted quickly to a loose ball from a scrum that MattW latched onto and blazed a trail into the green and yellow back line. E&L were camped on their line by now and were penalised seven yards out after Chob’ were stopped a yard short.
A tap penalty kept the momentum flowing and after working right over several phases had dragged the defence in the backs darted left and a neat pass out of the tackle from MaxA was the key that unlocked space for Fin to cross and bring the scores close once more. Another conversion kept up the 100% success rate for both kickers and Chob’ were within 3 points and with time to put real pressure on the opposition.
Chob were soon on the front foot again and driving for the line from an attacking lineout that bobbled around before being tidied. Chob’ still had the ball and tried to use the space out wide but one of the E&L backs read the move and stole an interception to streak home untouched under the posts and restore the 10 point lead for the home side.
Chob’ now had to put that score to one side and go again. To their credit they kept E&L pinned back and created a good chance for Fin once more before Aran was held two yards shy of the line. Then from a penalty 5 yards out the ref was in the 9-10 channel and copped the ball in the face which unfortunately snuffed out the attack. With Chob’ having to chase points E&L managed to turn over possession and were able to clear their lines and have an attacking spell of their own with time almost done. A kick to the 25 yard line and a driving maul was driven into touch and that was the final action of the game.
That the day ended in a 24-14 defeat can be tempered by all the boys getting plenty of match time and the combination of the two squads from last year into a single unit showed definite promise against strong opposition. Just a week to recover from any knocks and sprains as next Sunday is a trip to Farnham against another familiar foe.
Squad: Rhys, Lewis, George, MaxA, Andy, Aran, Harry, Dan, Charlie, Harrison, Callum, MattN, Fin, Tommy, Doug, Jack, Ben, Billy, MaxM, Teo, Sam, Keaton, Saxon, MattW.