So, you wait ages for a home game and then two come along on the same morning. Sunday was Waterfall Cup day and the Colts were entertaining Rosslyn Park, but with availability at the highest level all season a second fixture was arranged against Bracknell Colts to ensure the full squad would be involved on the day.
The last meeting with Park was in Under 12s on the day the squad won the Land Rover Cup to earn a day at Twickenham for the Premiership final, with Chobham winning a couple of matches by a single try to nil.
Chob kicked off and were so close to regathering like last week but Park had possession and played back to halfway. These early minutes showed that both teams were going to try and play a fairly expansive game. Park opted to play quick ball off the top from the lineout, with the Chobham three-quarters all stepping up to make important tackles and keep the boys in hoops from making much territory. Chobham looked to take advantage of the Park defensive line speed and use the space behind them, but the radar wasn’t quite dialled in during the opening exchanges.
The forward battle was edged in favour of the hosts with the scrum causing the Park front row to stand up more than once leading to the penalty count favouring Chob in the first period. Aggressive tackling around the scrum also kept the visiting 8 on his heels as he looked to make ground from scum and ruck. In turn the Park defence was able to disrupt Chob when they tried to break around the fringes meaning scoring opportunities were few and far between.
Park had a brief spell in the Chob 5 but backs to the wall efforts seem to inspire the Chobham lads and they earned a penalty to clear the lines. At the other end an attacking lineout was Chobham’s first chance, the disguised front ball being blown up as it seemed set to break the deadlock.
The opening score was a real forwards/backs combination. A Chobham lineout on halfway was neatly taken and the pack drove their opposite numbers 10 yards into the Park half. Harry at 9 demanded the ball and with a pass right on the gain-line from Aran to Chris who burst through a gap to attack the full-back. MattW was right on his shoulder and the pair of them calmly took the 15 out of the game with MattW scoring for the third game in succession, Aran making the kick from in front of the posts.
Chobham continued to look the more likely to score with another spell in the Park half. The dominance at the scrum led to a variation with Olly rotating to number 8 to try and test the fly-half’s resolve but the hook was so clean it was down the wrong channel and the opportunity was lost. In first half injury time Park hit back in unfortunate circumstances. Chobham tried a grubber through which Park dotted down for a rare drop out. This was all rather messy and a Park boot swung through it and in a flash the ball was over the Chobham line as Chris dotted down with what was probably his finger nail leading to a 5-yard scrum. The number 8 tried to go again but was rebuffed, but the rest of the pack were looping round the tackle and were able to cross right on the whistle. The conversion hit the left post so as Park trotted off into the changing rooms for the half-time team talk (or to check Instagram) they were behind by just two points.
Re-emerging for the second period Park were quickly on the front foot. Chob were penalised for hanging on after a quick tap penalty and a chip through had Chob isolated in the corner. The visitors won the turnover and used their extra numbers to score in the corner and quickly take the lead at 10-7.
It seemed that Park had changed tack in this second half and the plan was to keep Chobham in their own half with a series of long kicks, and then trust their kick chase to keep the hosts pinned down. This succeeded in preventing Chob from creating a base to attack from and frustration turned into infringements which allowed Park to turn the screw.
As Chob huffed and puffed Olly went down with a knee injury that seemed similar to Callum last week. On to replace him was Josh, with his first Colts game since last season alongside Max also from the Under 18 group at scrum-half who released Danny back to the Bracknell fixture, having himself replaced Harry who was limited to only half a game following a Saturday match.
Even with the narrow lead, penalties continued to catch Chob out, but JackPen, another Under 18 returnee pinched a lineout and the forwards took advantage winning a penalty of their own. Lewis was on the end of some swift passing and was into the Park end before being bundled into touch on the 25-yard line. A Park clearance failed to find touch but Piers was pinged for what look from side-on to be a dubious knock-on. Forward pressure though drew the Park 9 into feeding at the scrum and the forwards tried to make ground from the free-kick, but Park managed to win a turnover and Chob were back near their own posts once more.
Chob again managed to clear their lines and won a scrum in midfield. The backs moved to the right, but the ref completed his full set of possible decisions by calling them back for crossing. Park slotted the penalty, such is the way of Cup rugby it seems, and extended the lead to 13-7.
The restart gave Chob one final chance to hit back. Lewis chased down a long kick and wrapped up the Park catcher. MattN charged down the attempted clearance 10 yards out, but the awkwardly bouncing ball went forward off a Chobham hand and ark were able to close out a narrow and extremely hard fought win 13-7.
On the second pitch Bracknell Colts proved to be too powerful and too organised for a scratch squad with several players out of position to finish as comfortable winners, but the Chob lads scrapped hard earning praise from the coaching squad for the character showed in adversity.
Piers, Lewis, MattW, Chris, Saxon, Aran, HarryC, Dan, Charlie, Olly, JackPen, MattN, Fin, Harrison, Doug, Danny, Josh, Max.
Calum, Ben, Henry, MaxM, Jules, Teo, Billy, Cooper, HarryB, Danny, GeorgeC, Finn, Keaton, SamO, Tom, JackPet.