Chiltern start 2018 with a good bonus point win
Chiltern travelled to Letchworth for their first game after the Christmas break. Not surprisingly they looked somewhat rusty at times but still completed a bonus point win to stay third in the league.
The Letchworth pitch was dry and firm but with a strong wind blowing down the pitch in Letchworth‘s favour in the first half. Chiltern were soon on the attack and strong tackling gave Chiltern turnover ball which was worked out to fly half Ollie Choules whose neat grubber kick found space behind the Letchworth defence and provided returning prop Charlie Perkins with a welcome first try. After missing two matches through injury scrum half Stuart Pearham was back and he duly converted the try.
The wind continually allowed Letchworth to gain a foothold in the Chiltern 22 which gave them several opportunities to drive towards the line but the Chiltern defence was comfortable and on several occasions turned over possession. One the turnovers gave a Chiltern a penalty which they took quickly. Making ground with some excellent running and handling they closed on the Letchworth line but after another net kick the ball eluded the attackers and gave Letchworth the chance to clear their lines with a 22 drop out.
Given the strength of the wind Chiltern dropped back into their own half but what followed was probably one of the tries of the season. The ball was kicked long but was plucked out of the air at full stretch by Luke Antos who enjoyed a fine game all round. Making 10m with a strong run he neatly slipped the ball to Alex Harland. He in turn gave a delightful pop pass to centre Josh Davis coming up at speed. Josh hammered through two tackles before racing away 40m to score near the posts; the try was converted and Chiltern were 14–0 ahead.
Amazingly that was the last score of the first half as missed lineout throws and the concession of several needless penalties effectively kept Letchworth in the game. Nevertheless Chiltern knew that the wind would be in their favour in the second half and clearly there were also stern words from the coaching staff during the half-time interval to bolster the boys confidence.
Early in the second-half and now playing much more like the team we know, the ball was moved backwards and forwards across the three-quarter line at pace and a lovely missed pass saw James McLoughlin race away before in turn passing outside to Jack Kenyon who dived over for Chiltern’s third try in the corner. Although the kick was missed Chiltern were comfortable and regularly pressurising the home side’s defence. After 15 minutes Letchworth were awarded a scrum under their own posts but Chiltern’s strong drive put the Letchworth scrum-half under pressure and whilst his pass found his 10, scrumhalf Pearham brilliantly charged down the clearance kick and the bouncing ball was snapped up by skipper Ryan Cole who scored the bonus point try under the posts. The try was converted and Chiltern were away and clear.
To their credit Letchworth never gave up and their efforts were rewarded when a sharp break by their nine gave them try in the corner which went unconverted. They seem to galvanise Chiltern and a lovely break around the halfway line found Pearham in space to score the fifth and final try which he also converted.
It was a rusty performance but again we also saw Chiltern’s scoring power at its best. A little more calmness would probably have yielded another 2/3 tries but a five point victory is not to be sneezed at.
Next week Chiltern welcome Old Priorians to Weedon Lane. Although we won the match at their ground comfortably, Priorians have clearly improved as some notable victories have been achieved. Two years ago they were good enough to beat our title winning side so there is no doubt they are more than capable of competing strongly.
Kick off is at 2.00pm and a further date for your diary is the Bucks Cup Final against Aylesbury which will be at home on Febrary 10th. Kick off is likely to be at 1.30 and will be preceded by the VP‘s lunch and in turn to be followed by the England - Wales game which will be shown on the big screens at 4:45 PM.