Chobham U16 As ventured up country on Sunday to Amersham & Chiltern RFC looking to mix up the opposition from the usual more local sides we all know and love. A quick glance through the records showed three previous meetings at Marlow festival with a 2-1 winning record back to U7s but with A&C topping the Berks, Bucks and Oxon league it would clearly be a stern test for the squad.
How right this proved to be in the opening minutes. Chob’ tried to take play to A&C from the kick-off but were kept out comfortably and the hosts as A&C used their considerable size advantage and well-drilled handling to put Chob’ under pressure. A lineout followed by a challenging run from the big second row was enough to create just enough room in the corner for the opening score.
From the restart Chob’ turned the ball over and Adam was close but A&C very quickly turned defence into attack where this time the 5 was able to go over himself to push the lead to 10-0. At this point Harry succumbed to a back injury and Chob had used their only replacement with Connor coming on despite being unwell.
Again Chob’ tried to put the pressure on from the kick with some monster tackles going in and Chris making a half break. A&C were able to turn a handling error to their benefit to stretch the lead to 15-0 with barely 10 minutes played.
At this stage it was looking bleak as A&C pounded away at the Chob’ line but the defence held strong and the green shoots of recovery just began to appear. It was A&C who coughed up the ball at the breakdown next and a clearing cross-kick from Doug turned the hosts’ backline with Chob having a lineout in A&C territory. Al tidied well at the back and the three quarters moved right into the home 25. A couple of hit ups got close before a one out pass to Aran who managed to dance through by the posts to hit back to 15-7.
A brief lull in the scoring then followed as both teams huffed and puffed, A&C using their big ball carriers and Chob’ trying to play wider in the channels.
With just over 30 minutes played Harrison was out with an ankle injury and A&C were asked to help keep the sides even. Chob’ lost the ball from a lineout and with A&C making few mistakes they stretched the lead once more to 22-7 through the backs. It was 29-7 before the break as another A&C attack was finished off by a bullocking run under the posts. There was much to discuss in the huddle as the boys were once more staring at a heavy defeat.
Early in the second half Chob’ were forced to ask for more assistance with Connor having to pull out. Thankfully whatever went on at half-time had been absorbed as Chob’ scored first in the second half. Chris burst onto a ball from the scrum, which was rock solid all game once more leading to a 5 yard scrum. This time Fin cut the attacking line in midfield, drawing the defence. With a quick ruck catching the defence committed in the middle Rhys was able to make it to the line in the corner to close the lead to 17.
A&C weren’t going to take this lightly and forced themselves into the red zone very quickly. A penalty against Chob’ taken quickly was the half chance they needed to extend the lead again to 34-12.
A missed kick for touch from A&C was taken on the move by Aran. He was held up in the A&C half but smuggled the ball away to Chris who had too much gas for the defence to streak up the touchline and round behind the posts. 19-34.
The game was getting increasingly frenetic now as both sides gave everything they had. Chob’ conceded a penalty but the A&C kick was too long and into the in-goal area. With what can best be described as ‘naïve’ play instead of dotting down for a drop out the ball was kicked back to A&C who had 15 yards of space to run into and take the score to 19-39. With the Chob’ lads giving a bit of a send-off to the naïve player there was a reshuffle as another sub was sought. The lads were clearly riled now as their intensity seemed to climb another couple of notches.
Aran pinched the restart and the forwards piled in behind to drive well into the 25. From the ruck a short pass to Chris put him in again to cut the lead to 26-39.
The kick-off bounced from Dan to Matt which seemed to pull the A&C chase quite narrow. Two simple passes were all that was needed to put Gideon into space. Once more Chob’ pace prevailed and it was only a six point game at 33-39.
A&C kept on running hard but the defence was now much more active and stepping up to make the tackles, subs from the hosts included. A home bounce almost gets them in the corner but Adam stood firm. A&C tried again down the hill but were kept out in front of the posts. As the home back line moved right Adam intercepted a slow pass in the Chob’ 25 and streaked virtually the length of the field to dot down under the posts. Chob’ got lucky as A&C charged and the first kick went wide, but some of their players were on the halfway line. The second attempt sailed through and dramatically Chob’ now had a 40-39 lead from nowhere less than 15 minutes earlier.
The home side were rattled now as they conceded a penalty from a good position near the Chob’ line to be marched back 10 more yards for lip. Chob’ now had the ball in midfield but couldn’t engineer what would surely have been a winning score. A&C recovered their composure and showed why they looked to be unbeaten all season as they forced Chob’ steadily back to their goal line. It was the scrum-half who managed to get over as the defensive guards had finally been drawn in and A&C were back in the lad at 46-40.
With a couple of minutes to go Chob’ had to pull one final effort together. Pressure on scrum and half backs gave them a glimmer of a chance that led to a lineout on the 25. Sadly a knock-on midfield gave A&C a scrum on the final play. Taking the option to kick the ball dead showed how relieved they were to drag themselves off the pitch with a narrow victory. Both sides had contributed to an incredibly entertaining contest played with the supporters exhausted never mind how tired the players must have felt.
Squad: Rhys, Adam, Fin, Chris, Harry Aran, Gideon, Dan, Charlie, Olly, Matt, Max, Al, Harrison, Doug, Connor.