Southend just too strong for brave Chiltern
Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough season…
Match report by Charles Owen-Conway
Southend were relegated from level 4 last year, but with a clear intention to go straight back up. With deep pockets, they have recruited some very good big aggressive players and were physically just too strong for a brave Chiltern team.
Since Chiltern last played in National 3 London two seasons ago, the strength of the league has increased markedly with clubs being prepared to invest considerable money into their recruitment of players. It was interesting to hear Chiltern coach Jason Bowers reflect that this year’s league is proving as strong as level 4 when he was head coach of Chinnor 4 years ago!
Chiltern played against a strong wind in the first half and played calm sensible rugby for the first quarter of the match. Some poor tackling then let in one of Southend’s new southern hemisphere recruits who side stepped his way under the posts for the first converted try.
Chiltern stayed strong as they grew more used to the sheer physicality of the Southend side. Several times they fought their way up to the Southend line but couldn’t manage the last pass that would have brought scores to them. The last 10 minutes of the half were where the game was lost. Poor concentration and some sloppy play was clinically punished with three more converted tries. Half time 0-28 to Southend.
The second half was however a different story with Chiltern taking the game to Southend. They played the percentages far better and exerted real pressure on their opponents and a strong midfield tackle saw Jonny Hughes gather turnover ball and race over for their first try, converted by Cameron McDonald.
Chiltern’s defence although under pressure was sound and replacement Ross Bugden added some welcome experience to the young back division. A good passing move with the ball recycled several times gave space for Aaron Doyle to score in the corner for an unconverted try, 12-28.
Unfortunately, Chiltern lost their big second row Ash Stevenson-Leigh to a nasty looking ankle injury and whilst they were regrouping Southend’s left wing cut a beautiful line to put Southend on the score sheet in the 2nd half.
A late try from Southend made it 12-40 before intense pressure from the Chiltern forwards with Chiltern’s man of the match Ian Stock setting up a gap for Mike McDonald to score under the posts for a well deserved third try for Chiltern, final score 19-40.
Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough season but the attitude and determination is there from players and coaches alike to become competitive and to build on what was clearly evident in the second half on Saturday.
Next week gets no easier as Chiltern travel to Tonbridge Juddian, who narrowly missed out on promotion to level 4 last season!