Chiltern bounce back with an excellent victory against 3rd placed Colchester
Changes put in place by the coaches after the disappointment at Fullerians was clearly evident in the style and structure of the game against high flying Colchester.
Chiltern favourite Ross Bugden made his first appearance of the season which allowed Stuart Pearham to revert to his preferred position of scrum-half and with good ball coming from the pack, the control that Chiltern exercised in first half was first class. After an overnight frost the pitch was in excellent condition and having won the toss Chiltern decided to play against the wind. Initially Colchester dominated both possession and territory with some very good ball carrying and retention. Unlike two weeks ago Chiltern’s defence was sound and structured and having failed to breach the defence Colchester made several mistakes to allow the home side to pick up the play and to start exercising their own control over the game. Having set up camp in the Colchester half, the visitors conceded a series of penalties two of which were within kickable distance and Stuart Pearham comfortably slotted both home.
Yet another penalty against Colchester resulted in a yellow card but despite their numerical and territorial advantage it took Chiltern until nearly half time to break down the Colchester defence. Having lost skipper Ryan Cole to a shoulder injury in the second minute of the game replacement Dave Francis was quick to capitalise on a Colchester mistake at a lineout just outside the 22 and to power over for the first try of the game. Although this was wide out Pearham made no mistake with the conversion and Chiltern went into half-time with a highly satisfactory 13 - 0 lead.
Colchester who were also relegated with Chiltern last season and who won both of last year’s fixtures were a good competent side but the organisation and decision-making of Chiltern in the first half was really superb.
It was clearly going to be difficult for Chiltern to maintain such control against a good side and having failed to clear their lines properly, Colchester started to exert pressure and on several occasions were stopped just short of the try line. However they were not to be denied and having won a scrum 5m from the try line an early engagement by Chiltern gave the Colchester number 9 an opportunity to take a quick tap penalty from which he scored. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Colchester were on the board and pressing hard. Chiltern responded well and it was their turn to exert pressure on the opposition defence. The Chiltern backs aided by a solid forward performance were now causing real difficulties for Colchester with winger Jack Kenyon a constant threat. Colchester’s defence became more frantic and it was no surprise when they said conceded a penalty 40m out. The distance was irrelevant to Pearham who calmly kicked the goal to take Chiltern two scores clear again. Back came Colchester and following an excellent break by their centre they scored their second try which again was unconverted. At 16-10 and nearly 15 minutes to go there was no room for complacency on Chiltern’s part and they were determined to take the game back to Colchester. Another penalty was conceded and again Pearham was on target from 45m this time.
The last 10 minutes of the game where absorbing as Chiltern looked to put the game beyond reach and Colchester, in turn, were looking for at least a losing bonus point. A couple of mistakes by Chiltern allowed Colchester to camp near the line and despite two late yellow cards for technical offences, the defence remained solid until the final whistle which gave Chiltern the four point win and denied Colchester a losing bonus point.
With this victory Chiltern swapped places with Colchester and are now back to third in the league.
Two further mentions, the first was George Littlechild today’s referee who at 18 has already been refereeing senior rugby for three years! He was calm, confident and clearly had the respect of the players and has a bright future if he continues with the evident progress he is making.
The second was former Chiltern scrum half Dwayne Politeivo who was playing scrum half for Samoa at Twickenham against England. Dwayne played for the club the first year we were in the National leagues!
Next week Chiltern host another newcomer to Weedon Lane, South Woodham Ferrers. Kick off is at 2.00pm and the game will be preceded by the annual Vice President’s lunch at 12.30pm