Chilter Remain Unbeaten With Their Fourth Win Of The Season
After a damp start to the day, warm sunshine greeted Chiltern as they travelled to West London to play Old Priorians.
Yet more changes to the squad took the number of players used to 30 in only four games, however it was evident the longer the game went on that whilst OPs had some talented players, they struggled to match the fitness and organisation of this Chiltern side. On a lovely firm, flat pitch Chiltern attacked straight from the kick-off with the forwards winning quick ruck ball, driving OPs back into their own 22. A ball work to the right hand side was quickly recycled by debutant scrum half Ben Dugdale and a lovely delayed pass from Stuart Perham put centre Lloyd Anderson through under the posts for the first try after five minutes duly converted by Pearham.
Chiltern were playing controlled, sensible rugby with long raking kicks from Pearham driving Chiltern up and into the opposition 22. After 10 minutes one of these kicks was cleared to touch but from the ensuing line out Chiltern set up several forceful drives, the ball was passed out to wing Chris Naseby who deftly passed the ball inside to the supporting Jordan Scott who dived over for the second try. This was unconverted but Chiltern were comfortably ahead 12-0 after just 10 minutes. OPs then competed well for a period of time and there was no more scoring for the next 15 minutes. In that time we saw much improved scrummaging from the Chiltern pack, indeed they continued to dominate that phase of play for the whole of the game constantly putting OPs under immense pressure. A heel against the head set up space on the blindside resulting in the dynamic Dave Francis crashing over for a try beautifully converted by Pearham from the touchline for a 19-0 nil lead.
Chiltern’s dominance was evident in all phases of play and after another heel against the head in their own 22 centre Josh Davies drove the ball on before the ball was moved quickly to Tala Petelo whose aggression and pace took him 50m up the field before a neat inside pass found Pearham racing up in support to dive over for the bonus point try. That was again converted by Pearham himself and Chiltern were away and clear. More pressure in the OPs 22 gave rise to a desperate but blatant offside under their own posts but rather than take the kick at goal Chiltern chose a 5m scrum and as they drove OPs over the line the scrum was collapsed and Chiltern were awarded a penalty try taking the score to 33-0 at half time.
Chiltern made several changes at half-time bringing on Luke Antos and Ollie Choules for their first games of the season. Pretty soon they were again camped in OPs 22 and from another 5m scrum captain Gareth Wehrle was driven over the line for the fifth try duly converted by Pearham. OPs continually struggled to make inroads against the organised Chiltern defence and quick turnover ball saw Ollie Choules make a scything break which after several dummies took him across the line for another converted try. With 20 minutes gone Chiltern passed the 50 point mark for the 3rd game in succession when replacement flanker Luke Antos was on hand to crash over for children's eighth and last try. The conversion from Pearham made the score 54-0 and a cricket score was on the cards.
However at this point Chiltern completely switched off whether through complacency or from a variety of interchanges and it was no surprise when OPs moved the ball quickly to the left and deservedly scored an excellent try in the corner. Frankly what followed was almost a comedy of errors with Chiltern trying to run the ball from their own goal line. On the first occasion the ball was dropped and was gratefully picked up for OPs to score their second try but still Chiltern insisted on playing champagne rugby perhaps forgetting how their organisation and territorial game had served them well for 60 minutes. Two embarrassing missed tackles in midfield gave OPs two more converted tries and astonishingly a bonus point!
Amazingly the score in the final quarter was 24-7 to OPs! It is always difficult to maintain focus when so far ahead but this was a salutary lesson in how not to finish a game and as Chiltern play the stronger sides in this league such carelessness may prove costly. I suspect training will be interesting this week!!
It is, however, important to keep things in perspective and to remember Chiltern have a developing side who are learning week in and week out; the team remains unbeaten with four wins and three bonus points and they have moved up to 3rd in the league.
Next week sees Eton Manor visit Weedon Lane for the first time. They have recently played in the National Leagues and there is no doubt that they will prove tough opponents so Chiltern will really need to get their game heads on if they are to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Next Saturday, 30 September, is the reunion for ex players and ex Chairmen of the club and already over 70 people are booked in for lunch. Everyone is welcome so please put the date in your diary, lunch is at 1.00pm and the kick off is scheduled for 3 PM