Match Report from Nigel Guy : Charlton Park 8 Chobham 28
With batteries recharged after a week off and the memories of a stirring performance over title chasers Sidcup still fresh in the memory banks, Chobham faced a trip to league new boys Charlton Park in good spirits. Training had been sharp and the coaching team of Ryan Gregory and Tony Paul had plenty of selection dilemmas to opine on as injuries and availability issues eased. The starting XV saw Ben Sims and Dave Askew return to the starting line up with Liam Monaghan joining the bench alongside 20 year old former Chobham junior player Sam Forbes who was making his 1st XV squad debut. An excellent playing surface at Broad Walk supplemented by bright winter’s sun greeted the players on a chilly December afternoon.
Play got underway and both sides surprisingly chose to test each other out aerially in the opening minutes. Park looked threatening when pacey wing Reion Raybe put in a good kick chase but the Chobham defence tidied the ball up and averted the threat. On 9 minutes Park opened the scoring with fly half Thor Normann striking over a penalty from 25 metres. Charlton Park 3 Chobham 0. With the game stuck in midfield as both defences cancelled each other out, the visitor’s fly half Harry Guy missed a chance to draw level, pulling his attempt wide. Shortly after though the visitors opened their account. A touch finder from Guy provided field position deep in the Park 22 and from a well-constructed line out catch and drive back rower Euan Buckland was driven over for the try. Guy’s well struck conversion added the extras. Charlton Park 3 Chobham 7. With the home team also down to 14 for pulling down a maul, Chob looked to take control. This they did through the power of the scrum with the front row of Lee Evans, Sonny Kuwana and Adam Blemings having great success with a series of powerful drives. With the home team unable to withstand the pressure further penalties came and from one on 30 minutes, Guy increased the lead. Charlton Park 3 Chobham 10.
With the wind in their sails, the visitors put together their best period of the half. A flowing move involving many pairs of hands saw full back Mike McDonald racing free down the right. He looked like he had scored but a despairing high tackle wide out caused the referee to award a penalty try and with the extras added by Guy the visitors lead increased. Charlton Park 3 Chobham 17. With another yellow card awarded for the incident, it was backs against the wall for the home team as they went back to 14 men. Things got even worse as the referee ran out of patience with a home scrum which was unable to withstand the Chobham pressure and the home tight head was given 10 minutes on the naughty step. The half time whistle bought a moments calm to proceedings. Charlton Park 3 Chobham 17.
The coaching team of Gregory and Paul would have been pleased with the power of the dominant set piece which was causing Park all sorts of problems, but very disappointed in the number of unforced errors. The message was to tighten up to ensure the home team did not find a way back into a game where victory was far from assured.
Normann had chance to narrow the deficit on 45 minutes but his penalty attempt drifted well wide. At the other end Josh Devitt was bundled into touch and then the home team repelled a Chob rolling maul. On 60 minutes as Park found their feet Chobham prop Sonny Kuwana saw yellow for a side entry and shortly after the home team opened their try account with a carbon copy of the visitors catch and drive in the first half. Normann couldn’t add the extras. Charlton Park 8 Chobham 17. Park continued with their best spell of the game as big ball carriers Harlow-Singh and English started to get over the gain line but Chobham’s Ollie Smith came closest to scoring however he was bundled into touch by Raybe 5 metres out. The scoreboard moved shortly after as Guy stroked home a penalty after excellent work by 20 year old, debutant Sam Forbes, another from the Chobham juniors’ production line. Charlton Park 8 Chobham 20. The same combination repeated the action five minutes later on 77 minutes as the visitors started to find their feet again. Charlton Park 8 Chobham 23. With Chob’s cohesion now returning the visitors finished confidently. The outstanding Buckland delivered turnover ball and a fine break by Ben Sims saw him power through several tackles before a neat off load to the supporting winger Liam Monaghan allowed him to speed through for a try in the corner. No conversion. Full time. Charlton Park 8 Chobham 28.
This was a convincing away victory for Chobham against a side who are finding their feet in London 1S and have run the top sides close. With the set piece in dominant mode all afternoon, Chobham will be disappointed not to have produced the sustained accuracy of execution that would have delivered an even more convincing score line and potentially an additional bonus point. But a win on the road keeps them nicely tucked in amongst the leading 5 clubs who have pulled away from the pack. With a dedicated training session with England Captain Chris Robshaw to look forward to in the week and with bottom club Hove due at Fowler’s Wells on Saturday, the whole camp will be buzzing.
Nigel Guy Director of Rugby Chobham RFC