Chobham Colts made their 2019/20 home debut on Sunday with a friendly fixture against Esher on the orchard pitch. The Esher squad were carrying a long injury list so it was agreed that Chob’ would bolster their numbers to ensure everyone got plenty of game time.
The hosts received the ball at the first kick and quickly got their go to position of driving through the forwards to suck in the defence. With the drive reaching halfway Chob kicked deep. Esher tidies safely and put in a return kick down the hill. With the orchard being so small this had Chobham scrambling back and the Esher winger got a couple of toe pokes onto the ball before it sat up for him and he was able to cross for an early score under the posts. Chobham were 7-0 behind after only a couple of minutes.
The side then spent several minutes camped around the Esher 25 with the forwards looking to force an opening. Both sides were pinged for offside, a theme that would run throughout the match, which meant that neither team could break the game open.
Chobham had a lineout 25 yards out and got a nice trundle on to draw a penalty 5 yards from the away line. Two penalties later, and Teo took a tap a yard out and went over, pulling the deficit to a couple of points.
With the scoreline closed Chobham started to play with more confidence. The forwards continued to make ground off the early phases of play and the three quarters started to hit their straps with some tidy handling, Ewen, Keaton and Lewis combining on a couple of occasions to get really close to the Esher line.
The next score came from Harry pinching the ball at an Esher scrum, the ball only just getting behind the loose head’s outside foot. He broke into the Esher 25 and again the ref blew for a Chobham penalty. Quick thinking was again the key and Harrison got behind the defence to put Chob ito the lead, Danny adding the extras to make it 12-7.
Chob’ continued the pressure and were spending most of the time in the Esher half, only once or twice were Esher able to break out into Chobham territory. The visitors lost a player to a dislocated shoulder which meant a brief break for a reshuffle but Chob weren’t disrupted and kept knocking away at the Esher defence. Time was almost up when Chob won a penalty just outside the Esher 25. The decision to go for the scrum turned out to be the right one as a forward drive took Chob to 20 yards out. Danny at fly-half spotted that the Esher defence was all up very flat and a chip over the top was just soft enough for Ewen to chase through and dive on it as it bobbled forwards. Danny again converted and Chob ended the half with a 19-7 lead.
Half-time meant a switch around to allow all the Chobham lads to play for the home side and for the coaches to rotate the large match day squad.
Esher started brightly from the kick-off and were in Chob’ territory and finally had a lineout on the Chobham 10 yard line. Esher seemed to have set a platform to build from again before strong counter rucking from the Chob’ pack stole the ball. Soon after MattW broke through and gained 30 yards before being hauled to ground. Fast hands across the line reached Lewis who had enough pace and space to dive over in the corner, stretching the advantage to 24-7.
Esher fought back immediately and had a chance to strike back but a try saving tackle kept them out and earned Chob a scrum. The hosts were able to drive play back down field and had a chance of their own only for Danny, now in a black shirt to tidy up right at the other end of the pitch and win an Esher penalty. Esher were now having more of the game and were next to challenge for a score. It was down to Lewis to hold up the Esher tight head as he closed on the line. Advantage had been played so it was back for another chance for Esher but this time the defensive set was much better and a turnover released the pressure.
An attacking line for Chob led to the next score. Ben’s long throw reached Tommy at the back and a couple of passes later MattW was through a gap on a long arcing run that brought him back under the posts for Chobham’s fifth try. Aran converted for a 31-7 lead.
Both sides were getting a little tired now and a little laziness started to creep in with both teams being guilty of not retreating and giving away offside penalties. The game was being contested in the middle third now with all the penalties and it seemed as if the result was in. Esher though managed to break up the hill and win a penalty in the Chob 25. After probing right and then back left it was Harrison who effectively scrubbed out his earlier Chob try by crossing once more. Esher were back to 31-14 and with the final minute to be played were back in Chobham territory from the kick-off. The defence saw off this final challenge though and the ref called time to end an entertaining game played in good spirit by all involved.
Squad: Ewen, Lewis, MattD, Keaton, Saxon, Danny, SamO, Dan, Harrison, Olly, Callum, Max, Tommy, Teo, MattN, Finn, HarryC, Samuel, Ben, Harvey, GeorgeC, Aran.