Counties 1 Surrey/Sussex
Saturdays top of the table clash lived up to all the promises predicted, the first game of 2023 was played in near flood conditions!! Having lost at Summer Avenue by one score in October, the Scarlett & Golds were desperate for retribution, to which the 350 strong crowd were rewarded. Having only played one game in 2 months due to weather and cancellations the home team ran out lacking match fitness, but on the day this didn’t show.
There were a number of disappointed squad players not to make the starting 18, with competition for players at its best it has been since pre Covid. Head Coach Billy Davison explained to the squad that we start a run of 10 games over the next 10 weeks and so he believed that everyone will get an opportunity. Straight after Easter we also start the Papa John’s Cup that finishes at Twickenham Stadium. Excitedly, since the Twickenham game, Chobham saw the return at full back of the dynamic Tommy Reed, wing John Rumsey, flanker Max Sambrook, prop Pete McCain and captain Guy Mawhood.
Despite a promising start from the home team, the evenly matched teams made it a very tight game and the conditions did nothing to change that either. The Scarlet and Gold lineout dominated, but half way through the first half a Tiffs catch and drive from the 22m saw them cross the line for prop Carvill to open the scoring. 10 minutes later captain Mawhood picked from a ruck, broke a tackle and scored Chobhams first converted try. 2 minutes later Mawhood did the same again, but this time provided Magnus Barber with the try.
It was Tiffs who would have the last word of the half with another catch and drive from a 5m lineout that set up a backs hands move from the right to the left for wing for Corcoran to score a try, the visitors going in 14-10 down at half time.
As with the first half Tiffs opened the score for the second period, from a Chobham offence under the posts Sharp scored a penalty. 5 minutes later Tiffs offended under their posts, allowing Davies his first penalty of the game. Frustration was staring to appear in the game and Chobham again offended and let Sharp get his second penalty for Tiffs. But it was Chobhams captain who set the game alive by another pick from a ruck, passing to Davies who passed back to Mawhood for his second converted try of the day.
As the game went into the last quarter the home team appeared to look rusty and it was their own indiscretions that kept the visitors in the game. A set move from a penalty 5m out saw Tiffs other prop Hobbs cross the line for a converted try. With 4 minutes to go and 1 point difference this set up a great finish to the game, right up to the last play of the game it was nail biting. The game ended with a Tiffs 5m lineout, but for the throw was not straight and Chobham celebrated as 24-23 winners.
The game had been great value for both sets of supporters and probably on paper the right team game out as victors. The result sets up a great second half of the season and Chobham will be relishing that they are in the driving seat with a game in hand over first and second, only 6 points behind and must relish the final game of the season against top of the table Hove.
After the game Head Coach Billy Davison said “what a wonderful afternoon of Chobham rugby, and great hospitality! With three home matches, a roaring fire and a packed clubhouse it was certainly a day to enjoy. Following two great matches on early kick offs it was the turn of the improving 1st XV to take on the challenge of co-highflyers Old Tiffs. And the game did not disappoint. A tight affair throughout was sprinkled with key line breaks and fine tries from both teams. Top performers’ McCain, Mawhood, Barber and Goddard came to the fore to secure a crucial win by the finest of margins.”
Director of Rugby Harry Norman-Walker said “we knew that this was going to be a hard day and the performance from all 18 was fantastic, we probably let ourselves down in the quarter with the penalty count. To win in such a tight way is not an experience I wish to go through again.
We reset and prepare for Old Cranleighans next week, selection is hard for us with so many good performances in the Firsts and Cannons on Saturday, but a great problem to have. Our lineouts and scrum dominance against a much bigger pack was a big positive of the day.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, in Counties 1 Surrey/Sussex, Kingston lost 10-44 to 4th placed Vandals, Trinity lost 0-27 to Hove who moved to first place, Hove and Vandals wins keep the pressure on at the top. In the two earlier games on Saturday The Cannons beat Tiffs 2s 15-14 on the famous Chobham Hill, while The Crusaders lost 14-71 to Warlingham (a team in the 1st XV league) – all three teams at home made for a fantastic day. On Sunday the Ladies lost 15-17 to Hammersmith & Fulham Women II in torrential conditions..
Director of Rugby