Yet more frustration after an excellent performance
After the Christmas break and an excellent defensive training session with Saracens’ Will Fraser, Chiltern travelled to Southend with a very positive mindset.
Match report by Charles Owen-Conway
Despite some late changes, Chiltern were always competitive and there is little doubt that overall the better team lost!
Southend started briskly, attacking with pace and power. With Chiltern’s lineout struggling following the withdrawal of Antonio Machado and Tom Grammenos, it was difficult for Chiltern to gain any worthwhile possession.
One offence too many gave Southend the opportunity to take an early lead with a penalty but Chiltern were holding firm in the scrum and started to win some lineout to give them a sustained period of pressure. Recycling the ball time and time again finally led to a try for Lloyd Anderson, converted by Andy Fluker, and a 3-7 lead.
However, shortly afterwards and against the run of play, as Chiltern were now playing some excellent rugby, a kick and chase and some sloppy defending resulted in a Southend try to give them the lead 8-7, with about 15 minutes to go to half-time.
Chiltern came straight back and pressed incessantly at the Southend line and a clean lineout win gave Jordan Scott the opportunity to drive over in the corner, but too far out for the conversion to be successful, but still took Chiltern back into a well deserved lead.
Disappointingly, a dropped high ball and the following offside gave Southend the opportunity to kick a last-minute penalty to send the teams in at half time with Chiltern leading 11-12.
It remained very close after the break, but Chiltern were clearly in the ascendancy and a wonderful break from Andy Fluker led to a potential scoring pass for Lloyd Anderson, only for the ball to slide agonisingly forward; it was a clear run in and would have put Chiltern 8 points clear. It was not to be, and Southend pressed and pressed and with 10 minutes to go kicked a good penalty to edge them in front 14-12.
The boys were not giving up, but a couple of mistakes gave Southend field position and with three minutes to go they were awarded a somewhat dubious unconverted try in the corner.
Chiltern pressed again, but another mistake on the stroke of full time and with the last play of the game, the Southend wing clearly knocked the ball forward but for some obscure reason the referee did not award the potential scrum. Instead, with the players having stopped, a Southend forward gleefully snatched the ball off the floor and dived over the line and, to the amazement of all in the crowd, the referee awarded a try. This denied Chiltern even a losing bonus point, in what was a desperately sad end to a spirited and quality performance by Chiltern.
The boys didn’t deserve that, as they had played so much of the rugby. But when you are at the bottom of the league, the 50/50s so often don’t fall your way!
The spirit is still fantastic and we return to Weedon Lane for a game against the league leaders Tonbridge Juddian. Of course, it will be a massive challenge but after a pretty woeful performance early in the season I know the boys are looking forward to see just how much they have improved.