Grasshoppers – The Re-enactment!

Chobham Rugby 37-31 Hemel Hempstead Camelot (04/11/23)

For those fans who’d travelled 2 weeks ago to Isleworth to see Chobham do everything they could to try and lose against Grasshoppers, they could hardly believe a repeat performance would happen against Hemel Hempstead. The visitors this week at Fowlers Wells were a very strong well drilled team, but a much better performance from Chobham let them take the 5 point win. Camelot were one of the hardest oppositions the Fowlers Wells boys had faced this season.

Robbie Kennard’s team had two returning players from the Grasshoppers game, Adam Peever as starting fly half and Noah Jenkins on the bench. This was probably the strongest 18 Chobham had put out this season. Matt Bosworth reached the milestone of his 50th cap. Bosworth played as a junior at Chobham before heading off to play at London Irish, winning back to back Surrey Championships at Under 15 and 16. Matt then went on to play for the University of Surrey, before returning to Chobham in 2018. That season he made his debut, at N0.8, in a side that won 27-0 away to Hove that included coaches Robbie Kennard and Chris Kent.

From the kick off the two well matched teams were in a true battle and the larger visitors squad were expecting the physicality dominance to work away at Chobham, while the hosts were hoping that fitness would be the winner. The early phases of the game saw play between the 22 metres and from a poor clearance by Camelot where they took the ball back into their 22 metre, this gave Chobham an attacking line out 20m out. Chobham drove 10m before they started to play it and eventually Pete McCain barrelled over for a converted try after 5 minutes. With not a lot between the teams it was just before the half hour when Camelot No.8 was sent to the sin bin for slowing the ball down, allowing Sam Davies an easy penalty to take the hosts into double figures. Still with the man advantage the Scarlett & Golds scored a converted try from a lineout on the halfway, the ball went from one side of the pitch to the other and back before Davies passed to Josh Sheppard for their second converted try.

With only a few minutes left in the half Camelot knew it was important to get on the scoreboard, from a 5m scrum the ball went through the backs hands before wing Doherty made the extra man to score a converted try. But the last play of the half would see a line break by Adam Peever run from just inside the opposition half to 5m out before popping the ball to Guy Mawhood to score under the posts. Chobham went in at half time 24-7, their tails were up and they must have been confident that the win was ahead and Robbie Kennard reminded them of the last game and to keep grounded!!

Chobham were first on the scoreboard in the second half when Camelot killed a ball at the ruck for an easy 3 points for Davies. Minutes later Hemel Hempstead responded with a copycat try of Chobhams opening try of the game with replacement prop Leeson scoring their second try. With just over 50 minutes gone on the clock Chobham saw their first yellow card of the game, Nieem Khan was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle. With the man advantage, Camelot made an interesting tactical decision from a scrum to load the blind side with backs. It did work and eventually Cox went over for the visitors. Chobham came straight back though with another penalty.

Not to be outdone Hemel Hempstead went straight back up to the Chobham line and from a lineout a well drilled moves through their backs saw centre Davis score another converted try, the visitors were now within 4 points of Chobham. With 20 minutes left calamity after calamity saw another Chobham try, Camelot dropped a scrum on the half way giving Davies a kick to touch opportunity for the line out. He missed it and Hemel Hempstead grubbered the ball back towards the centre of the pitch, in the confusion as players dived on the ball the Camelot player knocked the ball into the arms of a chasing Justin Rowland who popped to Davies and saw him score a converted try to make up for his miss!! Sam Davies conversion saw him score his 100th point of this campaign.

Chobham in the last 5 minutes appeared to self destruct and the referee definitely did not help the outcome. It all started when Chris Kent was turned over from a defensive scrum to allow Camelot full back Norman to score in the corner. Then from the restart a dangerous tackle saw Dan Benton head to the sin bin. With no time left Camelot knew they had to run the ball and after another high tackle Sheppard went to the sin bin. Chobhams defence held fast as wave after wave of attack by the visitors did not penetrate, eventually a turn over saw Rumsey kick the ball dead. Chobham ended with 13 men, but more importantly a 37-31 bonus point win.

After the game Director of Rugby Harry Norman-Walker said “it was like deja-vu of the Grasshoppers game, but to be fair we played a very well organised team and our patterns were probably the best this season. We cannot afford to s=witch off at all in games and must play our own game and not let the opposition dictate a game.

We are now preparing for the trip to Leighton Buzzard on Saturday, Robbie and his team will be working on the small improvements for a squad we expect little change to.

We are performing well this season and to be sitting 6th at this stage is a great result.”

Captain Guy Mawhood’s reaction to the game was “first half we were excellent. We played the way we know we can. Our defence was something we were working on throughout the week and we were very well organised. Our attack was clinical and we deserved to go in at half time with a good lead.

In the Second half we had a lot of decisions go against us and we struggled to gain field position or momentum in attack. We spent the majority defender and eventually cracks started appearing and we ended up shipping too many points.

Overall we deserved the win and we’re improving every week. The boys have bought into training and the numbers we’re getting are going up and up all the time, which is great to be a part of. I’m really proud of everyone who stepped up today, because it was a real physical battle.

We’ll work hard again Tuesday and Thursday for another result on the road at Leighton Buzzard next weekend.”

Starting: Pete McCain; Sean Bellion; Angus Hargan; Chris Kent; Sam Goddard; Harrison Jones; Justin Rowland; Dan Benton; Guy Mawhood; Adam Peever; Joe Mousley; Nieem Khan; Sam Davies; Josh Sheppard; John Rumsey.

Replacements: Shaun Buchan; Matt Bosworth; Noah Jenkins.

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