On a nippy, but dry Sunday afternoon, Chobham & Camberley (CC) welcomed Battersea, Richmond & Irish (BRI) to Watchetts Recreation Ground in Camberley for their U16 girls’ Waterfall Cup tie. Underfoot conditions were ideal for rugby and both teams served up an absolute cracker.
Straight from the kick-ff, CC marched towards their opponent’s try-line and after several dominant phases Kayla Joubert crossed for the games opening score. Although unconverted this was just the start the home side wanted. Despite CC dominating the first couple of scrums, the emerald-clad visitors refused to buckle – BRI were not here to simply make up the numbers and came roaring back!
The away side’s domination in terms of both territory and possession began to tell and two tries midway through the half, the latter expertly converted, gave BRI a 12-5 advantage. Try as they might, CC were unable to successfully recreate the accuracy witnessed during recent training sessions. However, the half-time whistle brought a halt to proceedings with a seven-point deficit a fair reflection.
That inability to retain possession when inside the BRI half of the pitch, whilst frustrating, did not cause any of the girls to drop their head. Neither was there any sense of finger-pointing and/or blame being apportioned. It is easy for a team to be ‘together’ when winning and the passes are going to hand but having each other’s backs when you are up against it takes character – something this rejuvenated group of girls has in abundance.
The team’s ‘character’ was to be tested further as BRI broke down the left wing straight from the start of the 2nd half to stretch out to a 17–5 lead. That was that then – wasn’t it!?
Not likely! All of those elements which lacked polish in the first half suddenly began to shine. The lineout suddenly clicked with Katie Heslop finding Maya Ismail with metronomic regularity and the subsequent mauls resulting in serious territory gain.
The physicality of the CC defence also moved up a notch or five with a number of hits that we could feel on the touchline. However, BRI met fire with fire – neither side was happy to take a step back. The next score was always going to be crucial and it fell to CC.
The forward momentum of a maul came to a grinding halt just short of the line. Natalie Gregory dug for and found the ball. Spotting a break in the BRI defensive set-up, she lunged across the line. A score she richly deserved for another strong showing at scrum-half. Game on! Pat almost encroaching on the nearby cricket pitch in celebration had to be seen.
The forward pack and backs were collectively punching holes in the BRI defence – strong carries from Bo Kent, Scarlett Rance, Eva Hill . . . the list goes on. Libby Warwick became a human wrecking ball both in defence and attack – immense performance.
Surely a 3rd CC try had to come – and it did by way of the try of the match. Once again, accuracy, defence-puncturing carries and several punishing phases ended with the impressive Charlotte Newing dancing through despairing tackles. Absolutely outstanding team try. However, the missed conversion left CC trailing 15-17.
With three minutes left, CC were awarded a penalty just inside the BRI 22 and elected to kick for the lineout. Yet again, Heslop found Ismail – the pack rumbled, the BRI defence (for once) creaked and Katie Heslop dotted down to give the home team the lead. Scenes on the touchline!
There was still time for BRI to break CC hearts and with possession for the away side secured in the CC half, concern grew in the home supporter ranks. However, a BRI knock-on led to the referee blowing the final whistle – bringing proceedings of a pulsating tie to an end. 20-17; one helluva game!
Even with CC-tinted glasses on, it would not be wrong to say that neither side deserved to lose this titantic battle. However, every single member of the CC team contributed to a memorable and ultimately winning performance. Bodies will ache, lungs will have struggled to keep up with the demands you placed upon them, but an unwavering team spirit and focussed application of all that Pat (hope the heart rate has recovered?) and Chris work on during training came to fruition.
U16 girls’ rugby at Chobham is back!