1sXV v. Saffron Walden Match Report
Chiltern comfortably retain their unbeaten record despite the efforts of Storm Brian!!
Saffron Walden were making their first appearance at Weedon Lane in the company of “Storm Brian”. Although not quite as severe as first predicted but in typical Chiltern conditions, winds of over 30 mph meant that Chiltern were hoping to win the toss to allow them to play against the wind but were then delighted that having lost the toss, Saffron Walden decided to make first use of the gentle breeze!
It was evident that defence was going to be crucial and indeed for the first 15 minutes or so Chiltern were hardly able to get out of their own 22. Admittedly a couple of poor lineouts and two knock ons did not help the cause but the defensive line was strong and organised and to be honest Saffron Walden rarely looked like scoring. Chiltern however could not get on the same wavelength as the referee and skipper for the day Josh Davis was warned that another infringement could result in a yellow card! Chiltern did became more disciplined and with Saffron Walden unable to break through their defence it was rather surprising that the visitors decided to forego two eminently kickable penalties.
Children did occasionally manage to make some ground only for small mistakes to be capitalised on by the opposition whose kicking took the game back into Chiltern’s 22 time and again.
Having however weathered the storm, Chiltern started to play sensible, efficient rugby and after 30 minutes and from an excellent lineout just inside the Saffron Walden half the ball was driven on by the forwards before some excellent inter passing made space for Josh Davis to slice through the defensive line for the first try of the game which Stuart Pearham converted. Straight from the kick-off Chiltern secured the ball and excellent play by Callum Newton and Stephen Gibson gave Chris Jack the opportunity to draw his man allowing Lloyd Anderson to outpace the defence from just inside his own half for the second try duly converted by Pearham.
Saffron Walden were struggling to cope with Chiltern’s running game and after securing turnover ball, Anderson sliced through the defence to score Chiltern’s third try in just 10 minutes. Pearham slotted the kick and there was just time for Chiltern to surge upfield again from the kick-off and having dispossessed the opposition once again the ball was kicked forward and flanker Dave Francis was on hand to pick it up and dive over the line for the bonus point try, again converted by Pearham.
28 - 0 against the wind was a fantastic performance and the boys went in at half-time comfortable in their ability to secure the victory and hopefully score many more points in the second half
When the game restarted Chiltern initially used the wind well and it was no surprise that after eight minutes of controlled, patient rugby, Dave Francis was driven over the try line for his second try, comfortably converted by Pearham.
With the game effectively won Chiltern brought on their replacements but the team then seemed to lose focus and were again struggling to cope with the interpretation of the referee. To their credit Saffron Walden simply drove and drove at the Chiltern defence and with Chiltern’s kicking game somewhat askew field position was conceded again and again. Despite this, the defensive line was comfortable and it was therefore rather regrettable that Saffron Walden were awarded a try despite the second row being clearly held in a tackle on the ground, then being allowed by the referee to get up and dive over the line. The try was converted 35-7.
Chiltern conceded several more penalties and were trying to force the game unnecessarily. After 30 minutes Saffron Walden attacked again and after several well constructed drives they scored a second converted try 35-14 which is how the score stayed.
Chiltern’s performance in the second half was frustrating. The lessons and structure of the first half,which were frankly outstanding, were seemingly forgotten and effectively the game descended into an arm wrestle.
That said there were some outstanding individual performances, Stephen Gibson was deservedly awarded man of the match and the pace and strength of Dave Francis and Lloyd Anderson were always prominent. The scrum was very secure and despite the wind the lineout was ok.
Overall a bonus point win was secured and Chiltern remain unbeaten which is a very satisfactory state of affairs particularly when you consider that probably 10 players who would be actively considered for the 1st XV are presently injured. It is particularly pleasing that so many of the younger inexperienced players have stepped up to play at a level they have not faced before and it bodes well for the future of the club.
It was a good day all round as the 2s travelled to Henley and gained an impressive bonus point win themselves and in the local derby the 4s defeated Tring in another very entertaining game.
Next week is crunch time as the two unbeaten sites in the league, Chiltern and Chingford come face-to-face. The match is away at Chingford with kick off at 3.00pm. It is not far to travel and as many supporters as possible would be welcome to cheer the boys on.