Chiltern come up agonisingly close
What a great game of rugby which ended in such disappointment when Hertford scored with the last play of the game.
Match report by Charles Owen-Conway
Expectations were not particularly high as we welcomed third in the table Hertford to Weeden Lane, who had convincingly beaten us at their ground early in the season.
Whilst recent performances have been better, results have not gone our way but with a new look back row giving the team some more pace and penetration Chiltern took the game to Hartford from the kick-off. Again and again the forwards and backs inter-passed and drove Hartford back towards their line.
From one of these drives it looked odds on that Chiltern would score, but a knock on seemed symptomatic of recent play. However despite Hertford clearing their lines Chiltern came straight back at them and from a quick line out Ryan Cole made a splendid break into the Hertford 22 and a beautiful slip pass saw Jonny Hughes dive over the line under the posts; the try was converted by Andy Fluker.
The Chiltern lineout was working better than in recent weeks, but the scrum struggled to cope with a heavier opposition pack. Nevertheless, Hertford could not break through the defensive line, splendidly marshalled by George Bartlett and Jordan Scott. These two back row forwards had immense games making metres in attack and chopping down Hartford players at will.
However, in their eagerness to secure the ball, Chiltern did give away numerous penalties during the game and the Hartford 10 who had an excellent game throughout, kicked three penalties in the first half.
That said with the score still at 7-3 the ball was worked out to Lloyd Anderson who made a strong run only to be stopped near the corner flag. However his strength kept him in play and Andy Zair was on hand to drive over the line for Chiltern’s second try. The conversion was missed but on 33 minutes Andy Fluker kicked a penalty goal and the halftime score amazingly was 15-9 to Chiltern.
Hertford came out with all guns blazing and put Chiltern under severe pressure especially in the scrum and it was no surprise when the Hertford 10 kicked another penalty to make it 15-12. Shortly afterwards good play from a lineout saw the Hertford hooker score wide out to put them in the lead for the first time in the game.
Surprisingly, the score remained 15-17 to Hertford until normal time with Chiltern scrapping and surviving some severe pressure. Chiltern made ground on several occasions and only a desperate tackle stopped Cameron McDonald scoring after an 80 metre break from his own line. Normal time was up but the boys refused to give in. Several plays were repulsed before a strong tackle deep in the Chiltern half turned possession over. Chiltern kicked on twice and as the ball slid over the Hertford line Ollie Choules was on hand to dive on the ball and score a try, which Cameron McDonald converted.
Five minutes of stoppage time to go and Chiltern defending for their lives. One great tackle gave Chiltern turnover ball and three minutes to run the clock down! For 2 1/2 minutes they did it brilliantly, only for the ball to be lost with 30 seconds left. Hertford attacked wide out on the left wing before the ball was switched quickly into midfield where, with excellent handling, heartbreakingly Hertford scored near the posts and with the last kick of the game their number 10 converted to get Hertford out of jail and snatch a 22-24 victory.
It is difficult to describe the utter desolation on the boys faces as they had been so, so near but it was not to be. The Hertford coach very sportingly came straight over, apologised and said quite simply that they had not deserved to win which was very generous of him.
We will put this behind us, as every game they are improving and as we move on and into the second half of the season, actually, in pretty good heart. We have some returning players and we believe that whilst we may struggle to survive in the league we will take some good scalps when we enter the return games against opposition that we have already challenged in the first half of the year.
We were all very proud of the attitude and performance that we witnessed and it was a wonderful exhibition of what rugby is about. I wish the players, coaches and spectators the very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.