Chobham Under 16 As and Bs 2018-19 vintage opened their campaign with fixtures against London Irish at Hazelwood and Guildford at home respectively.
The fixture at Irish was on their 4G pitch which would allow for plenty o f fast flowing action that would favour the visiting side. First though was the kick-off with Irish playing into a strong breeze. A well-judged kick arcing back on the wind was retaken by the home side and gave them first dibs on the attack. An over eager offside in midfield led to a touch kick in the Chob’ 22. With the new laws allowing lifting and now competing at the lineout Irish did well to secure possession with Chob preferring to get a strong defensive drive to counter. The home 8 made a swift break down the blind side and had the strength to burst through one tackle to get them on the board quickly. With the wind as a constant irritation, the conversion was missed, a story that ran for the duration of the game.
The restart was the opportunity to put the boot on the other foot and a more dynamic front 8 were able to keep Irish penned deep in their own half, with fast ruck ball and tight carries to the fore. The resulting penalties gave a platform for fast hands and after a few phases of pressure the ball was swung wide to the right where Harry brought the score level with the first blue try of the game. Chob made no mistake with the second kick and set up neatly to work immediately back into green territory. With Chobham playing the better rugby Irish were having to scramble across field as Chob probed for a second try. Sure enough this came from a loose lineout recovered by Callum. Hands left were a little careless for once but Jack gathered a yard from touch. With a spin out of a flailing tackle he was free and bearing down on the opposing fullback. A chip into the space behind him sat nicely on the second bounce and he was over the whitewash.
The half continued with Chob aided by the conditions spent the majority of time in the Irish half
without being able to create further scoring opportunities. Then, with a few minutes to go before the break Chobham had a scrum in a promising position. Gideon, Ewen (fitting in seamlessly at 10) and Chris combined to feed Fin going full chat and bursting through in midfield. With the line approaching but the fullback looming he opted to commit the tackler and put Chris in to score unopposed after running a loop onto his right shoulder.
At the restart Chob were soon back in Irish territory, trying to make the most before conditions were against them in the second period. The scrum was putting Irish under real pressure and was winning plenty against the head to keep Irish under pressure. Irish conceded a free kick that Chob looked to move quickly into space. Unfortunately a little red mist had descended and the Irish 8 was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Gideon. This led to him having a ten minute rest on the side-line and the match had to be moved to the adjacent pitch for the second half as Gideon was down being attended to.
Into the second half, and the rain had eased though the wind was still blowing hard. Within a minute Irish were down to thirteen as another late tackle from a half time sub meant he also took a few minutes on the side-line. With the ref and coaches having spoken to their respective teams the game restarted. In honesty the 2 man advantage wasn’t capitalised on by the visitors though they did maintain a territorial advantage. The Chob side adopted a much tighter game plan with the forwards doing a lot of driving close to the breakdown. The Irish defence creaked at times but ultimately stood firm as the second half stalemate extended to twenty minutes. Irish were now having to play the more high risk strategy and the fly half attempted to break from a five yard scrum only to throw a forward pass. Chobham took advantage and scooped up possession. They made us of an overlap wide to the right with Aran squeezing into the corner to stretch the lead out to 15 points.
Into the final 10 minutes and a rare loose lineout from Chob gave Irish a scrum. Once more their passing was scrappy and Rhys picked up a bouncing ball cleanly, going on to outstrip the scrambling defence and run in a try from half way.
In the final few minutes Irish managed to sustain a period of pressure on the Chob line using the rolling maul to good effect. Chob kept them out on a couple of occasions but the number 8 managed to cross for a second score a minute or two from the final whistle to leave the score at 25-10 to Chobham and a successful start to the new campaign.
Meanwhile, back at Fowlers Wells the B squad were facing a Guildford A side in their opening
fixture. The Chobham team welcomed back Jacob on his return, and Jack and Jules making their
debuts for the club. Guildford got a very early try before Chobham got going. For most of the rest of the game it was nip and tuck and only the best of defence kept Chob out on a number of occasions as they succumbed to white line fever once or twice. Guildford managed to seal a 12-0 win with the final play of the game, but the Guildford coaching team felt that it didn’t reflect the closeness of the game. After the match the referee complemented the boys on their attitude and respect as well as ability, marking it as one of the best junior fixtures he had officiated in.
A Squad: Jack, Rhys, Aran, Fin, Harry, George, Gideon, Dan, Charlie, Oli, Callum, Billy, Connor,
Tommy, Matt, Ewen, Chris.
B Squad: Alfie, Andy, Ben, DanP, Harrison, Jack, Jacob, Jules, Lewis, MattW, Max, Sam, Samuel,
Saxon, Teo, Tom, MattN