A win at last, and a good one
Players and supporters hold their nerve in tense finish
Match report by Charles Owen-Conway
After several near misses, not least at Colchester two weeks ago, there was some trepidation as we welcomed Chichester to Weedon Lane. They had notched a couple of good scalps already but the boys were confident ahead of the game and had trended well in the week.
We welcomed Michael Wright for his first game for the club. He is Captain of Oxford Brooks Uni 1st XV and made a very promising debut at tight head prop.
The weather was cold but mercifully no wind or rain which made a pleasant change. From the kick off, Chiltern secured possession and dominated territory and ball for the next 5 minutes. Repeated driving for the line was only stopped illegally by Chichester and after seven minutes Chiltern took the lead with an Andy Fluker penalty.
Both sides took turns to attack but with Antonio Machado prominent in the forwards and Lloyd Anderson a constant threat on the right wing Chiltern created several excellent scoring chances which regrettably they failed to secure.
A dropped pass, a couple of poor lineouts, but the score remain as it was until the 29th minute when, after sustained pressure on the Chiltern line, the Chichester scrum half took a very quick tapped penalty to score wide out for an unconverted try. Chiltern surged back and came close to scoring but a missed line out throw meant the score of 3-5 remained until the interval,
Chiltern lost Andy Fluker at half time; he had been ill for most of the week and couldn’t continue. Jonny Hughes moved to 10 with Chris Jack moving up to centre and Cameron McDonald coming on at full back.
Chiltern were now playing patient rugby and Chichester were committing offence after offence. One too many times for the ref, who yellow carded their 7 and from the resultant penalty Cameron McDonald calmly put Chiltern back into the lead, 6-5. Five minutes later, another penalty was again successfully kicked by McDonald to increase Chiltern’s lead to 9-5.
Chichester then produced their best 10 minutes of play and threatened the Chiltern line only for the Chiltern defence to hold firm and win a relieving penalty only to commit the cardinal sin of missing touch. Chichester came straight back at Chiltern who themselves infringed and from the resulting lineout Chichester scored with a well worked rolling maul 9-10 and 15 minutes to play.
Unlike several games this year Chiltern refused to buckle and dominated the last period of play. After several attacks were repulsed, Chichester lost another player to the sin bin for one too many infringements. Chiltern attacked from inside their own half through man of the match Antonio Machado only for him to be felled by a pretty nasty high tackle. Somehow he managed to offload the ball which was switched quickly to the right and to Lloyd Anderson in space just inside the Chichester half. Lloyd streaked away and with two devastating hand offs scored a wonderful try in the corner. Nervelessly, Cameron McDonald kicked the touchline conversion to take Chiltern clear at 16-10, a lead they simply refused to relinquish.
The Chiltern defence was outstanding as Chichester threw everything they had, but deservedly Chiltern ran down the clock to secure that precious first victory. The relief was palpable and the players and coaches deserve all credit for their hard work and team spirit which has been so evident in the last few weeks.
Next week, Chiltern have to make the long trip to Guernsey who not surprisingly have an excellent home record. The boys will however travel with more confidence after this game and will, I’m sure, give a good account of themselves.