With a number of Chobham boys at a Surrey trials day, a combined Under 16s A/B squad hosted a powerful Horsham side at Fowlers Wells on Sunday.
Opting to receive the opening kick the home side had first chance to create an opening with the visitors kick failing to go 10 yards. A solid set piece allowed the backs to do their thing and earned a first penalty from a high tackle, resulting in a lineout on the Horsham 25. Sadly the visitors’ line had more zip than their scrum and the ball was lost to a smart lift at the front and Horsham were able to clear to midfield and a lineout of their own.
The Horsham pack obviously sees the lineout as a useful weapon, getting a drive on into Chob territory and earning another penalty and a kick to the corner. This time the boys in blue held firm and when the rolling maul went down the ball popped out on the Chobham side and the danger was cleared.
The back three of Horsham were full of running whenever the ball broke their way and a break from the wing and a hack on had to be quickly dealt with by Rhys racing back to ground the kick through. Sharp work from Al at the drop out with a little tap to himself won a penalty and Chob reached midfield once more.
The visitors continued to try and use their strike runners to drive Chob back but the defensive line held firm and slowly the green waves were subdued and Chob had a spell of territorial advantage. Horsham were still looking to play out of defence and a loose pass dropped to Doug who put a cheeky chip to the right corner where Horsham had to carry over and give Chob a 5 yard scrum.
From this steady platform Sam feinted right before opening the play left. Fin saw a gap and burst through to sniffing distance of the try line before being dragged down. With the forwards following up behind it was Callum who finished off the move and gave George a relatively straightforward conversion to take a 7-0 lead.
For the remainder of the half Horsham huffed and puffed but couldn’t break the blue shackles until the final play of the half. Chob won their own line but left the ball exposed where a pair of greens arms could rip it free. The visiting backs showed the pace that had threatened all game, and with smart support running were able to open their account with a 60 yard attack. The kick was made so Chob held a slender 2 point lead at the break.
Chobham opened up the second half in more physical fashion committing more bodies to the ruck and pressuring the Horsham pack. The Horsham fullback spilled a clever ‘garry owen’ which led to an attacking opportunity just outside the visitors 25. A good set of drives by the pack took play into the red zone, but a single turnover was enough to put Horsham in the lead as the left wing again showed everyone a clean pair of heels to round the defence and score a second try.
The kick chase was well executed by the home side as Aran retrieved the restart. Another string of phases with the forwards attacking close to the ruck carried play to the Horsham 25 once more, but their defence held firm and Chob couldn’t manufacture a try scoring opportunity.
Horsham now looked to create space in the wide channels and bring their pacy wide players onto the ball wherever possible. With Chobham having to chase a score this worked particularly well on the counter when Chob had tried to force an opening. Two tries in five minutes towards the end of the game came about this way and the visitors had a 24-7 lead.
With time running out one of the Horsham forwards darted through a gap close to a ruck in midfield and had the legs to beat a tiring defence. With the whistle blown shortly after, the visitors had carved out a 31-7 victory.
To the home boys credit they kept trying to play rugby, and the majority of the points against were scored as a result of greater speed out wide. Attention now turns to Cup rugby as both squads begin their campaigns in the next couple of weeks at Camberley and Warlingham respectively. Hopefully this run out against a strong visiting side will be of benefit in these upcoming fixtures.
A Squad: Al, Andrew, Aran, Billy, Callum, Dan, Daniel, Danny, Doug, Ewen, Fin, George, Harrison, Harry, Harvey, Jules, Lewis, Max, Olly, Rhys, Sam, Samuel, Tom.