Local rivals Chobham and Vandals first league game since 2005 was destined to be a tight well-matched game, Saturdays spectators were definitely entertained.
Saturday saw four changes to the team that had run out the week before, there was league 1st XV debuts for back row George Mcpherson and utility back Sam French, both starting on the bench. The other two changes were starting with Ollie Campbell at hooker and Harrison Jones in the back row.
From the outset a strong Chobham side own errors let Vandals stay in the game, eventually 5m outside an offside penalty allowed Vandals flyhalf Wetherall to open the scoring with a penalty. After 10 minutes Phair increased the score in the right corner with a well worked converted try. 5 minutes later Mason scored a well worked try from a scrum. Every time Reed got the ball the crowds eyes lit up as he jinxed through the visitors’ defence, sadly he couldn’t make an impression on the score. With quarter of an hour gone the visitors were nearly scoring a point a minute. Fortunately, the second try didn’t get into the heads on Chobham and they kept battling. Despite being at least a stone a man lighter in the pack the Scarlet and Golds dominated the scrum. Bellion was in the row this week, but regularly in attack was used as a battering ram.
Chobham spent the second 20 minutes of the half camped in Vandals half. After 5 penalties in a row on the Vandals line Chobham finally crossed with Hargan getting a try. Warrens tackling time and time again negated the Vandals attack, with Sambrook bringing some speed into the tackle again with skill outwitting size. Captain Mawhood management of his teams discipline during this period was imperative in keeping the referee on Chobham’s side, despite numerous offences in the red zone the visitors still had 15 on the pitch. eventually after numerous penalties the visitors finally saw their winger Phair sent to the sin bin just before half time, the score 15-5 to Vandals. Sadly, Chobham could not capitalise on the man difference. The Chob line out worked well and Jones’ jumping and the catch and drive dominated the visitors.
The second half Chobham came out with a purpose and you could see they believed the game was theirs to win, the new centre partnership of Blackmur and Sheppard worked well outside Davies at fly half – the visitors backs defence was solid and despite a barrage of attacks the home team could not penetrate them. The light home pack continued to dominate and when Mcpherson and Watts came on they were as solid as ever.French came on for Mousley on the wing and made a great start to his career. Vandals carried on giving away penalties and eventually Wetherall also went into the sin bin. From the ensuing lineout a great catch and drive saw Nell grounding a converted try. From the kick off Chobham ran the ball the length of the pitch to see Jones score another converted try. The 14 points Chobham scored during the Wetherall yellow card won them the game. Campbells running lines and the support of Goddard had Vandals consistently on the back foot.
From the start of the game Rumsey at fullback had managed the game and all long kits into Chobham territory were tactically and intelligently returned. The last major event of the game was Sheppard receiving a Yellow Card just before the final whistle for not rolling away.
Head Coach Billy Davison said after the game “a new week and a very different match! Competitive throughout, Vandals certainly brought a significant challenge. Happily, the Chob boys proved up to it and with the game progressing the home side certainly began to win the territorial battle. Despite some impatience and execution errors Chobham brought the requisite creativity and ambition to run out winners in a tight contest.
Assistant Coach Robbie Kennard said “a win is a win but we made hard work of today. I’m pleased with how the boys battled back in the second half but we must respect the ball and territory. I must also say ‘well done’ to Vandals who certainly played their part in the encounter.
I know the group are very much looking forward to training this week and the challenge that next Saturday brings. It’s a big training week and lots of selection headaches; which is certainly a positive thing!”
Director of Rugby Harry Norman-Walker said after the game “that was a tough game to watch, but the boys ability to stick to the game plan won it for us. We made some silly errors and tactical decisions in the first quarter that put Vandals very much in the driving seat, our heads never went down and our discipline with the referee all worked as a positive. The last hour was Chobham winning a game out and a great spectator event.
Vandals definitely shook us and reminded us how hard this season will be, the next two weeks against the two top teams are where the squad needs to establish its pedigree.”
Elsewhere the Cannons played a fantastic game against Guildford 2s and lost in the last minute 22-26, the Women playing their first game in Women’s NC 1 South East (West) following promotion lost a hard game 25-52 against a well organised Wasps Amateurs. The Colts lost 5-31 in the Boys National Cup to Windsor Colts.
Next week the 1st XV travel to Old Tiffinians at Hampton Court, the Cannons are at home to Reeds 2s, the Crusaders open their campaign against Warlingham 2s and the Women travel to Hammersmith & Fulham.Harry Norman-Walker
Director of Rugby
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