(Match report: James Cole) Chobham U14s fought back from 22-7 down, to draw 22-all with Old Cats, in a thrilling contest on Sunday.
Cats got off to a flier, dominating the opening exchanges and scoring after just three minutes. Chobham responded immediately with a try from fullback Ryan Lees. Centre Alfie Johnson skilfully slotted the conversion to give the home side a 7-5 lead.
Cats though then found their nip. Some good hands from their backs and neat interplay in the loose-forwards saw their prop go over in the corner. The visitors were now dominant and would have had a third try had it not been for an outstanding cover-tackle by Chobham wing James Somper. Somper flew across from his opposite wing to prevent what looked a certain score in the corner.
The pressure and penalty-count though was mounting for Chobham and two more Cats tries followed. Number eight Will Buxton finished a nice move up the blindside. Then, on the stroke of half-time, their imposing outside centre created a score on the left wing.
Cats led 22-7 at the break.
Chobham had to score first in the second half – and did. George Sutherland found himself in space 15 meters out on the right. Some good footwork and a sharp turn of pace saw the flanker beat two defenders to score a morale-boosting try.
From there Chob grew in confidence. Joseph Gannon made a big impact off the bench, while a rampaging run from prop Sam Riley got his team up-field. Opportunities were then wasted but the home pack recycled the ball well and prop Tom Blenkinsopp powered over to make it 17-22. Chob were now within a score.
The final six minutes were frantic. Cats ran everything. Chobham tackled their hearts out. A turnover inside Chobham’s 22 by Riley saw Lees break clear. He was tackled 22 meters out but crucial territory had been gained.
With the final play of the game Chobham worked their way up the left-hand side, recycling the ball well. An overlap on the right was now evident and – when it finally went wide – Blenkinsopp helped set-up Lees, who finished superbly for his second try of the afternoon.
That levelled the match at 22-all with time only for the conversion. Johnson was faced with a tough kick from out wide to win the game. He struck it well but it drifted just left of the uprights.
So 22-22 it finished. The draw – probably the fair result in a game played with fervour and adventure by both sides. The character shown by Chobham to turn around a 15-point deficit should give them great confidence going forward.