Match Report from James Cole : Chobham under-15s remain top of Surrey League 2, after a 26-12 bonus-point win over Roslyn Park at Fowler’s Wells on Sunday.
Two tries from wing Ryan Lees and further scores from number 8 Sam Riley and centre Felix Connolly secured the victory.
The visitors had fought back from 12-0 down to level the game at half-time. But Chobham’s second-half display showed huge character and some moments of individual flair.
Chobham got off to flier and scored after just 5 minutes thanks to a superb individual effort by Lees. After good hands from Tom Robinson, Sam Davies and then Sam Riley, Lees received the ball just inside Park’s half, wide on the right. With very little space with which to work, the wing accelerated past four would-be-tacklers, showing excellent pace and balance to finish under the poles.
Significantly – it was an earlier cover-tackle and turnover by Riley which had allowed Chobham to quickly turn defence into attack. They made it count and Alfie Johnson converted for a 7-0 lead.
It was soon 12-0. Chobham were moving the ball wide to good effect and it was Riley this time who found himself out on the wing (probably having a rest!). From fifteen metres out on the left the number 8 looked to have run out of space — but a trademark drop of the shoulder and then a good long reach saw him safely to the line.
Roslyn Park then fought back though with two tries of their own.
A quickly-taken penalty inside their half caught Chobham napping in defence. Within two phases they were under the posts. . Utilising their superior size in midfield they carried hard then released their inside centre on a crash-line to score under the post. Chobham won’t have been happy with their defence — but credit must go to Park’s aggressive running lines.
Twenty minutes in, Chobham’s lead was down to 12-7.
Having then kicked away possession twice, Chobham spent the rest of the first half defending. Flanker Sam Mitchell and centre Jack Mather did brilliantly to hold Park up over the line — but the pressure soon told.
From the resulting scrum, Park’s centre once again carried hard in midfield and when their second-row did the same, they were in again. The visitors were using their big men to good effect. Chobham, meanwhile, were falling off tackles. The conversion was missed. The scores were level at the break.
The second half was a far closer affair than the final score-line might suggest. Chobham though, benefited from keeping the ball in hand and utilising their pace in the wide channels. That said, it was a kick that produced their third try.
They say a kick is only as good as its chase and, on this occasion, that cliché proved true. From Chobham’s ten-metre line Johnson’s cross-field effort was pursued by Connolly. He put pressure on the retreating winger in the air, who – as a result – spilled the ball. Lees reacted quickest and then ran quickest too, to evade Park’s covering defenders and touch down under the sticks.
With Chobham now back in front at 19-12, the next score would be crucial.
It went the way of the home side and came courtesy of another piece of individual excellence – this time from centre Connolly.
From a scrum inside his own twenty-two, Johnson refused to clear his line and bravely moved the ball left. The rest though was down to Connolly. With a hint of space on the outside, the centre burst clear and accelerated hard. Having beaten the first line of defence, he showed good stamina and strength to hold-off and then hand-off two covering defenders. It was an 80 metre run-in than left the under-14 centre begging for a breather. But he’d earnt it.
With less than ten minutes to play Chobham had secured the four-try bonus point and had crucially opened-up a 14-point lead.
They held on for the win, working tirelessly to the end. The team’s defensive effort – against a bigger opposition – was optimised up-front by the tackling of Joey Kenworthy, Artur Pawlowski and Sam Mitchell in particular. While George Sutherland was a terrier in the tight, once again.
This was, though, an excellent team effort, polished-off with some moments of individual excellence.
Credit should also go to the three under-14s – Connolly, Finn Livingstone and Oliver Henderson – who looked comfortable playing beyond their years.
Next-up will now prepare for a friendly at home to Readingensians on December 13, before a league meeting with Cobham in early 2016.
Chobham: Nick Liley, Jack Baker, Artur Pawlowski, Joseph Gannon, Joey Kenworthy, Sam Mitchell, George Sutherland, Sam Riley; George Jones, Alfie Johnson, James Somper, Jack Mather, Tom Robinson, Ryan Lees, Samuel Davies, Jamie Baker, Felix Connolly, Finn Livingstone, Oliver Henderson, Patryk Knap.