Chobham 25 – 30 Farnham
On a traditional autumnal day Chobham’s expectant crowd, buoyed on by a supporter’s lunch attended by over 100 Xmas jumper outfitted followers, ran out against a confident top of the table Farnham. It’s been over a decade since the two Surrey clubs faced each other in a league game and most neutrals expected a cricket score from the visitors. It was a game that had everything; Father Christmas photographers, a son of a Chob centurion playing for Farnham, four try bonus point for each team, the referee poleaxed by a player and both teams comically came out on the pitch 5 minutes early awaiting the referee!!
After the match captain Euan Buckland was presented with a Centurion tie on attaining his 100th 1st XV cap, Euan joins an illustrious band of both current and former players to achieve this tremendous milestone. In his second season, Chobham’s most successful ever, Euan was Young Player of the Year and the following season in 2016 Euan went to Wellington, New Zealand to play for Tawa for a season to improve his game. As a big tackler and audacious No.6 he has added many tries over the seasons to his tally, he reached his 50th Cap in 2017. Euan is a local boy who has captained the team since last season.
Billy Davison’s squad faced run away league leaders Farnham and from the kick off the visitors attacked and in the second minute a line break by Welch saw him score under the posts for Salmon to add the conversion and put the guests 7-0 up. Chobham, sponsored by Bray Wealth Management and local restaurant Rosso Mazarra, now had to up their game and from the restart the pack had Farnham on the back foot, especially from a returning Ed Wynne (sponsored by Chobham Wealth management). The Chob pack at the first scrum had the opposition retreating at a rate of knots, the confidence was bolstered when the early dominance earned the hosts a penalty. Kicking into the corner and winning their own line out gave Chob a platform for captain Buckland to cross the line and Finn Robjohn to convert and make it all even after 8 minutes.
Tenacious tackling form Jerry Rumble and Justin Rowlands put the bigger Farnham player behind the game line. The added pressure from the hosts self-restraint and discipline meant that the visitors would not benefit as teams earlier in the season had. The dominant Chob scrum was then awarded a penalty and Robjohn gave the hosts a 10-7 lead with not quarter of an hour gone. The 250 plus crowd were now getting louder as this appeared to be acting out a top of the table clash as opposed to top against bottom.
For the second game in a row Sean Bellion, sponsored by Owen Shipp Commercial, line out throwing was spot on and worked well with Chris Kent, sponsored by Active8, to totally dominate the line outs. Even Rowlands was able to disrupt the visitors’ ball at times. The excitement was growing, and the next 20 odd minutes saw two mighty forces going at one and another with respect. Chob attacked into Farnhams half from a Robbie Kennard, sponsored by Past President Chris Whiting, box kick the chasing back line put the visitors under pressure and from the turn over Phil Williams put Liam Monaghan, sponsored by Timberline Partners, free down the wing but sadly the grubber bounced into touch.
Exciting movement by Tommy Reed left the visitors with the question on how to deal with the non-conventual centre, but with 36 minutes gone Farnhams second row Mictchell, probably their player of the match, broke from within their own 22 to run the length of the pitch to score and taking the halftime score to 12-10 to the visitors. At half time the Chobham coaches, sponsored by Reflex and Relax, where pleased that the penalty count was only one – the discipline was working in Chobs favour.
Chobham came out fighting and forwards game of physicality restarted from where the first half left off, unfortunately Kent suffered a torn ear and a blood replacement was made with Oli Guy, sponsored by GCS Recruitment, coming on while the physio Dean Tooby repaired the damage. This early dominance was rewarded with Monoghan being put through to score to the applause o the excited crowd and put Chob back in the lead 15-12. Leon Nell in the loose played a very assured game and regularly slowed the visitors ball down. The stable scrum with tighthead Dave Evans, buoyed on by his sponsors the Under 14s players applauding everything he did, having the game of his life – anyone impartial would have been impressed by the hero worship following that Evans had on the touchline. Against the run of play Farnham under pressure scrum got a penalty to allow Salmon to bring them level after 54 minutes.
Moving towards the hour mark the game again went through a middle of the pitch period, both teams defended well and for the second game in a row Chobs disciplined defence kept the pressure on Farnham. Much furore came from the touchline when a diminutive Ben Livingstone put the Farnham winger on his backside. The visitors made a line break that released centre Salmon to score under the posts and gave his brother an easy conversion to put them 22-15 in the lead.
Chob attacked from the restart and the visitors had to defend resolutely, sadly an adjudged dangerous tackle with 12 minutes to go saw the hosts centre Williams sin binned and Farnham elected to kick for a line out in the corner. Farnham won the ensuing line out and ever present second row Mitchell got his brace to extend the lead to 27-15. Earlier on this season Chobs heads went down when faced with 10 minutes to go and 2 scores behind, but this is the new Chobham and the boys raised their game and made a match of it.
The hosts organised pack saw a disciplined dominant octet work towards the line and a pick and go saw returning prop and Man of the Match Wynne cross the line to bring Chob into losing bonus point territory, but that was no what they wanted – the 15 men at Fowlers Wells wanted a bonus point win and they played the last 10 minutes as though they deserved it with John Rumsey, sponsored by XV Sports, at full back again taking the game to the visitors. The next 5 minutes saw some of the best and one of the most bizarre moments of rugby seen at Chobham for a while and unfortunately one of the few penalties given that afternoon allowed Salmon to extend the visitors lead to 30-20.
Chobham again came out attacking and pressurising Farnham, a great run down the right wing by substitute Sam Davies, sponsored by Chobham Wealth, was ended by him being bundled into touch 5 metres out. The home team disrupted yet another Farnham lineout to see Kennard scramble over for Chobham’s try bonus point. What then happened appeared comical as the Farnham fly half charged the conversion attempt and the knocked-out referee Conor Sewell, who required 5 minutes of treatment before carrying on for the for final hectic two minutes. At 30-25 now to Farnham, there was not a man, woman or dog who knew what the final result would be at Fowlers Wells.
Chobham pressured the Farnham 22, but the visitors resolute defence overturned the ball and as soon as the ref called 80 minutes the away team scrum booted the pill into touch.
Coach Billy Davison said “This performance proves we have the ability to cause a lot of teams problems in the second half of the season, eighteen boys played with pride and passion that scared a confident Farnham. Next week’s game away at Old Reigatians is a crucial game and we ask for all Chobham supporters to make the effort for the away trip.”
1st XV manager Harry Norman-Walker said after the game “We are upping our performance week on week and we proved against Farnham we have the ability to get out of the relegation dog fight, our discipline was exemplary and to only concede one penalty in a half is unheard of. I was so pleased to see Centurion Euan Buckland not only captaining the team, but also scoring.”
Chobham Cannons continued their success in the Surrey Championship winning 67-15 against Sutton & Epsom 3s, coach Andy Campbell said “Winning a game when scoring 11 tries is always great, but we could have made it far more if we’d been really clinical. I was not happy that not one of their players stayed for a drink or food after, that’s just not rugby.”
Team: David Evans, Sean Bellion, Ed Wynne, Leon Nell, Chris Kent, Jerry Rumball, Justin Rowland, Euan Buckland, Robbie Kennard, Fin Robjohn, Ben Livingstone, Phil Williams, Tommy Reed, Liam Monaghan, John Rumsey
Game Changers: Jimmy Heslop, Oli Guy, Sam Davies