Chobham Under 16s broke new ground on Sunday with a trip west to Newbury. Travelling with only fourteen as a result of late call-ups to the A squad, the hosts generously loaned a player, to be known as Newbury James, to make it an even game.
Chob were out of the gates quickest and were very soon into a 5-0 lead with Andy scoring wide out. After a long injury break for an unfortunate Newbury player the game recommenced with Chob still in the ascendancy. Matt made a break from halfway and great support from the back row with Teo and then Harrison on hand for a pop pass Harrison crossed to double the lead at 10-0.
The restart once more put Chob on the front foot with Lewis carrying right back to the home 10. The visitors kept up the pressure but despite a couple of line breaks couldn’t extend the lead further. Newbury began to get into the game and their rucking game started to cause Chob problems at the breakdown.
A loose pass in midfield gave Newbury the opportunity to strike back as one of their wingers was first to it and had the legs to go in despite a couple of despairing attempts to bring him down. At this stage Chob lost one Daniel to a calf injury, but again Newbury came through and he was replaced by Newbury Dan.
Chob continued with their game plan of the forwards creating the platform for the backs to then look for the gaps in a stretched defence, but it was Newbury who went close. One of the big forwards made a line break but it was Ewen who reacted first and was able to chase back to make a try saving tackle and win a penalty to clear the danger.
Half-time beckoned and Chobham were close to the Newbury line once more with Newbury James carrying hard at the heart of the home defence. The forwards took a scrum against the head and looked to punch through in the centre channel. With quick ball through a couple of phases Harrison was over once more, and Andy added the conversion to give the visitors a 17-5 lead at the whistle.
The Newbury coaches clearly laid out a swift change in tactics over the half-time oranges as they opened up the second period playing a much tighter game. Using their size advantage in the front 8 they set about grinding Chob down with a series of hits close to the breakdown. To the Chobham boys credit the line creaked but it didn’t break and they held firm for the first 10 minutes of the half. The referee at one point looked to have given a try, but after consultation with the linesman the decision was a Chob 25 yard drop out. From that point the boys in blue were able to work their way into the Newbury half for the first time in the second period. They won a penalty inside the home 25 and a quick tap gave the chance to use room wide on the left. A loose pass prevented the score initially but Andy was on hand to scoop up the bouncing ball and add his second try. For good measure he added the conversion and Chob now had a healthy 24-5 advantage.
Newbury seemed deflated by this clinical attack and were almost immediately further behind. Sam owned the restart kick and then Ewen poked a clever kick back into the Newbury red zone. Newbury James got himself further off the home Christmas ‘gathering’ season by ripping the ball in a tackle. A couple of plays later the ball was with Lewis wide on the right with just enough space to dive in to make the score 29-5.
The forwards and backs were now working well in combination and the passing interplay took them right back into the danger area for Newbury. A series of scrums with Chob matching their counterparts despite the size deficit was just the stage for Danny at fly-half to curve a cheeky kick behind the home back line for Andy to chase onto for his hat-trick.
Chobham safely saw out the game without further scares and finished held up right on the line in search of another try.
The final score was a 34-5 victory for Chob who continue to play an entertaining 15 man style of rugby wherever possible. All sixteen players (with thanks to Newbury’s James and Dan) put in a shift ahead of a much shorter journey on 9th December to play Guildford As having beaten a useful Berkshire side.
Squad: Daniel, Andy, Matt, Ewen, Lewis, Danny, Sam, Dan, Ben, Newbury James, Finn, Max, Teo, Tom, Harrison, Newbury Dan.