New season, new team, great win!
After the disappointments of last year, today saw the fruits of a root and branch reorganisation of the coaching structure and the composition of the team...
A growing crowd were extremely pleased to see Chiltern turn over Brentwood rather more easily than the score line suggests.
Fielding six new starters to the Chiltern ranks and with the return from University and from other clubs the crowd were treated to some exciting play combined with an outstanding scrum performance and efficient lineout.
Brentwood have been in the top three of this league for the last 3 seasons, have a big aggressive pack and ran Chiltern very close twice in our promotion season 2 years ago. On a cloudless, warm day at Weedon Lane, both sides had periods of possession and attacking play in the first 15 minutes but generally Chiltern were on the front foot. Encouragingly the Chiltern scrum, whose front row had an average age of 20, yes 20! completely dominated the scrum throughout the match and were a tad unlucky not to win rather more penalties than they did. Charlie Perkins returning from Uni and Callum Newton at 18, the third generation of the Newton family to play first team rugby for Chiltern, propped new 1st XV Captain Ryan Cole who has himself only played one season since finishing his studies at Cardiff Met.
Playing controlled rugby and kept in position by new fly half, Stuart Pearham, Chiltern built several good phases of play and it was no surprise when the ball was worked quickly to the blind side for new Samoan wing, Tala Petelo to outflank the Brentwood defence and to score the first try, nicely converted by Jack Kenyon, 7-0. Chiltern were comfortable in control and it was really good to see Lloyd Anderson making an excellent fist of his starting role at 13. Brentwood had a big quick centre who has been a prolific try scorer for Brentwood, but Lloyd marked him beautifully and didn’t miss one tackle throughout the game which was a superb effort.
The pack were comfortable and after another long phase of possession Michael Brothers saw a big gap that gave him the opportunity to score Chiltern’s second try this time unconverted, 12-0.
The score stayed like this until the last minute of the half. Brentwood worked a very good overlap and only a superb covering tackle stopped a try being scored. From the subsequent lineout on their own 5m line Chiltern inexplicably threw the ball long, made a complete hash of it and allowed Brentwood to score an unconverted try so 12-5 at half time.
The second half was far more scrappy with Chiltern being sucked into an arm wrestle rather than using their higher skill level to take them clear of Brentwood. A period of pressure moved Chiltern up into the 22 and a lovely little kick over the top of the defence by Josh Davis resulted in a blatant obstruction by a Brentwood player. Arguably it could have been a penalty try but the ref gave a yellow card and Kenyon kicked the goal 15-5. Wasting some good field position let Brentwood back into the game and a well worked move resulted in a converted try, score narrowing to 15-12! Chiltern rather calmed down then and focussed themselves much better. They took up position in the Brentwood 22 and after getting closer and closer to the line an obvious offside prevented a score and the ref had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try 22-12. With the clock ticking down a speculative pass gave Brentwood good field position and the opportunity to score their 3rd try which was converted, 22-19 and 4 minutes to play!! In reality, Chiltern were calm in defence and played out time to secure an excellent first win of the season.
Very difficult to know what this means yet, as there were some very big scores in the league, however the hard pre season work looks to have paid off and Chiltern now travel to Old Haberdashers near Watford next week, a side they have not played before.
It was wonderful to see CJ back after his horrible injury last year and it was good to welcome the other newcomers not previously mentioned in the report, Steven Gibson a superb lineout operator and great ball handler and Callum Varrell another 21 year old prop who also made an excellent impression. Also great to welcome back Dave Francis and Jordan Scott to Chiltern colours, even if it was in a supposed “Aussie Gold” change strip that to many looked rather “orange”… whatever the colour the result remained the same!