Match Report from James Cole : Chobham u15s 20-28 Effingham & Leatherhead u15s
Effingham & Leatherhead stole the spoils with the final play of the game to deny Chobham a losing bonus point and secure a winning one of their own.
Trailing by a point with a minute to play, Chobham had and attacking scrum inside their opponent’s half. A score would have won the game — but instead a handling error in midfield saw Effingham kick-ahead and score their fourth try of the afternoon and seal the win. That score not only secured a winning bonus-point but also denied the hosts their losing bonus-point. It was a cruel double-blow for the home side, who were made to pay for their missed opportunities.
Effingham and Leatherhead dominated the opening exchanges and crossed inside the opening 5 minutes. A scrum on Chobham’s 10 metre line provided the platform for the visitors, who made easy inroads through midfield. The ball then went through the hands with deadly accuracy to release their outside centre in space on the left. The visitors’ 13 – who was outstanding throughout – showed a clean pair of heels all the way to the line.
Chobham fought their way back into the game with a score against the run of play. Jack Mather took a quick tap-penalty inside his own half and – with a sharp turn of pace – cut through the broken Effingham defence. Mather carried all of 40 metres to get his team on the front foot. The Chobham forwards then supported their wing well and kept the ball alive. One phase right, followed by another left created space — and when it went left again, crisp handling from Johnson and Riley put Lees in the corner. The fullback made no mistake with the finish. Johnson’s kick was just off-target, which meant Effingham led 7-5 after 10 minutes.
Chobham then suffered a series of injuries as fly-half Samuel Davies , flanker Dan Siddeeq and wing Heath Whittington were all forced off in the space of a few minutes.
Effingham & Leatherhead took advantage.
The visitors’ second try came from a well-worked lineout 15 metres out. A long throw over the top of a 2-man line found the long reach of their second row. He carried strongly into a now docile Chobham defence. From the resulting ruck their flanker took a crash-ball off of his scrum-half and coasted to the line. Chobham’s fringe defence had been found wanting. The kick was once again good. Effingham led 14-5.
Chobham were now at sixes and sevens and soon conceded again. Effingham’s number 8 broke blind from a scrum and found acres of space. His run sucked in Chobham’s defence, allowing his fly-half easy passage to the try-line. Once again Chobham’s defence was looking ragged. It wasn’t just missed tackles that were hurting Chobham, conversions were too. Another kick on target saw Effingham take a 21-5 lead.
Chobham had to score next – and they did. Riley – now at centre – was instrumental in it. A big carry into space out on the left made the inroads. Chobham’s pack supported and recycled well and when Johnson moved it left again, quick hands from Mather put Riley in the corner.
That score gave Chobham a lifeline – but they still trailed 21-10 at the break.
A try-saving cover tackle from Lees in early in the second half kept his side in the game, before a moment of brilliance from Artur Pawlowski created the breakthrough Chobham so desperately needed.
The prop broke three tackles and showed an excellent turn of pace to take his team within 10 metres of the try line. Some impressive offloading, – the pick of which came from Tom Robinson – then kept the move alive and when the ball eventually went left once more, slick handling from Johnson and Riley put Mather in for his second of the game. Chobham now trailed by just 6 points.
The hosts were by this stage dominating territory and possession but crucially remained unable to make it tell. Numerous penalties inside their opponents half came to nothing. Instead it was Effingham who had the chance to extend their lead — but pushed a very kickable penalty wide of the posts.
6 minutes from time, the pressure finally told and Chobham got their score. A quick-tap from scrum-half George Jones kept the tempo high and Riley bulldozed then glided his way in from 10 metres. It capped an impressive all-round performance from the Chobham skipper. However with the touchline conversion missed, it wasn’t enough to give Chobham the lead.
And so it was from there that the hosts failed to edge out a tight end to the match. Too much kicking with too little time left on the clock relieved the pressure. And when Chobham went for broke with the final role of the dice, they had ultimately left themselves too much to do, too late.
Nonetheless they should take plenty of positives from a performance which contained glimpses of the expansive rugby which is sure to serve them well as the season progresses. If a touch of control can be added to that flair, wins will follow.
Next up, it’s Roslyn Park at home on Sunday.
Wishing Heath Whittington a speedy recovery with his broken arm!