It was the short trip to Guildford on Sunday for the U16 B squad. To coin a Harry Redknapp-ism they were down to the ‘bare bones’ with injuries and school trips accounting for several players. With some players initially going to Guildfordians (through no fault of their own…) it could have been worse but by kick-off time all 15 were present and correct.
Guildford put the opening kick high into the air, but Dan, the only one in the team from the four a week ago, made no mistake and took it cleanly. Chob had the early moments with ball in hand, working around the base of the ruck through several phases before conceding a scrum.
The front eight continued their good form, putting the home pack back on their heels but early enthusiasm meant a penalty to Guildford who kicked into the Chob 25. This was taken safely and the Guildford backs looked to attack across wide to the right. They were kept out but maintained possession. They reformed and came back across to the left where the outside man had the room and the wheels to cross for an early score.
A sloppy restart and another offside penalty gave Guildford the platform to kick Chob back towards their own goal line. Chob resisted the attempted drive at the line, and Guildford were forced into a loose pass in midfield. Unfortunately the home 13 saw a gap in the defensive line that had come up very quickly and had the pace to go all the way once he had gathered the ball. The conversion was successful and it was now a 12-0 deficit.
This time a much better restart was pinched and Chob were able to exert some pressure of their own. The down side of playing an A squad is that openings come around a lot less frequently. So it was that Chob pounded away at the door for at least 10 minutes, but the home side held firm. Chob got to within a yard of the whitewash on a couple of occasions but weren’t able to convert this into points.
Guildford looked to have weathered the storm with a scrum on their own 25 yard line and a chance to put more space between Chob and the try line. Once more however the pack fronted up and had their opponents in retreat. Sam put the 9 in all sorts of trouble and to try a speculative loopy pass while on his backside. Teo had broken quickly from the flank and snaffled the pass before the fly-half. Nobody could lay a hand on him and he scored the visitors’ first points, Samuel following up with a neat conversion to get Chob back in the game at 7-12.
Guildford came back strongly however as Chob were unable to safely clear their lines and Guildford had another lineout very close to the Chob line. The drive was once more rebuffed but Guildford kept control of the pill and after a couple more hits close to the breakdown went over for a third try, taking the lead back out to 10 points.
Chob were temporarily down to 14 as Finn had taken a nasty knock defending the line, and Guildford were able to use the numerical advantage in their last action before half-time. The forwards again worked well close to the breakdown to create space in the midfield.
Chobham had it all to do, turning round 24-7 behind, and playing up the slope. To their credit the second period was a much more even affair. The visiting lineout continued to function well, allowing Chob at least a fair share of possession. Callum and Ben started to get the hang of their unfamiliar positions at 12 and 13. Callum rattled the home back line with some shuddering tackles when they looked to open up the game.
Chob endured a further spell with one man unavailable, but Guildford couldn’t create any more points with the defence now more organised after the break. Guildford’s scrum half got to a yard or two from the line but terrier tackling stopped him short and then pushed Guildford out to the visiting 10 yard line.
When Chob had the ball Lewis looked dangerous, particularly when returning Guildford kicks that the brassier defence brought about. Guildford had one good chance with a break down the right wing but Harrison was able to put on the afterburners and make a try saving tackle on the 25 yard line and Chob had a lineout. With metronomic consistency this was won cleanly and a good kick from Ewen put the home fullback under pressure from the chasing players. A penalty was awarded for not releasing and Chob were now up to the home 25.
Quick ball off the top aimed to get the backs moving at pace but a loose pass fell nicely for Guildford. They picked up cleanly and with the Chob line having committed forward, one pass was all that was needed to undo all the good work.
Chob now only really had consolation points to chase, being 31-7 down, but they set about it with real commitment. The forwards recovered the kick-off and pushed Guildford back into their 25. The front pod did its bit to get up quick and pinch the throw. The backs looked for gaps to the right, before being brought down. Then the forwards took over and punched close to the Guildford line under the posts. A couple of simple passes gave Jack the opportunity to open his Chobham account against his old team with a fine try to cap a strong physical performance all afternoon. Samuel added the final points with a good kick and the final score was 31-14 to Guildford.
So a defeat, but plenty of good things to focus on ahead of a return to cup action against Sutton and Epsom on December 16th.
Squad: Samuel, Harvey, Callum, Ben, Lewis, Ewen, Sam, Dan, Harrison, Jack, Finn, Max, Teo, Tom, Billy.