Chiltern take Chinnor scalp with outstanding performance
The top of the table clash brings out the best performance of the season by a Chiltern side, in front of a fantastic home crowd!
The day began early for the majority of the team, with a hearty brunch held at the local eatery known as 'Seasons Deli'. The majority of chat was based on the influx of gingers into the starting line up and whether Ginger Power could actually be a thing. With the documentary 'Bantos' Big Day Out' (see attached video) coming along nicely, kale and spinach smoothies sunk and Huevos Rancheros polished off, the team made their way up to the fortress that is Weedon Lane (a fortress for the 2nd XV at least!).
As the atmosphere built within the changing room (thanks to DJ Joe Batty Boi) it soon became quite clear that the day was a day that would not be like any other day. Following a fantastic warm-up from Marc the Shark and a near perfect pre-game run through, the teams re-entered the changing rooms to don their respective jerseys. 'This is your Everest boys' cried Simmo, 'if you're down, one of them is down' he said, 'we can be hero's, just for one day' he unashamedly stole from the late, great Bowie...and with that, it was time!
As the match preview fore told, this was a game not to be missed! Fortunately, the Chiltern faithful heeded the call to arms and a raucous crowd turned up to cheer on their Chiltern red and white dynamite. Chiltern emerged from the darkness of changing room 1 to an almighty furore, intensified by the use of air horns that was a constant throughout the game.
Chinnor Wildboys are top of the league for a reason and regular faces from previous fixtures between the two sides had been noted. Chiltern were under no illusion as to how tough this game would be and the victory would likely be earnt by the team that could impose their will the longest, throughout the 80 minutes. Following the standard pre kick-off huddles, both teams lined up with Chiltern facing towards the low Winter sun, ready to commence proceedings.
From the off, aggression was there to be seen from both sides, epitomised in the first minute by a heavy contact between Joe Batt and the Chinnor number 5, resulting in the latter going off with an injury to his back. The Chiltern scrum looked strong and would be a source of good ball for the backs throughout the game. However, the first score came from the visitors when a Chiltern line out (which was expertly ran by Ash Stevenson-Leigh all game) just inside the Chinnor half was knocked down by Johnny Rice. A favourable bounce was collected by the Chinnor 8, who made a great break into the Chiltern 22. After a few phases the ball was worked neatly through the hands to the Chinnor wing, who ran in to score with the extras added by the visiting fly-half. 0-7 to Chinnor!
Rucks were hotly contested by both sides and just as one team seemed to be gaining some dominance, a turnover or infringement would alter that. Despite some good kicks out of the hand from the resulting penalties, both sides were awarded penalties in range of the posts but both missed to the left. It was Chinnor again though that managed to add to the scoreboard. A missed tackle on the right channel allowed the fullback to touchdown under the posts (Ryan Greenstreet pulling a hamstring in the process of preventing the fullback scoring centrally and being replaced by Toby Neill). The conversion was successful making it 0-14 to Chinnor, leaving Chilts needing a strong response - and that is what came!
Following an off the ball incident where sweet, innocent and oh so young Jake Choules somehow managed to rile the Chinnor 15 into giving him a Shawn Michaels back body drop, Chinnor were rightly reduced to 14 men. From the resulting kick to touch, Chiltern set up a driving maul 15 yards out and Ollie Cato was the man to drop down with the ball. To save continuous mention of conversion attempts, unless specified, Chiltern tries went unconverted. 5-14 Chinnor.
Chiltern were again next to score, another positive carry from Joe Batt gave quick ball to the backs and smart hands found Dom Rice who was tackled just short of the line. A heavy crash ball from Ollie Cato, allowed Jake Choules to pick up from the back of the ruck and dive for the line successfully. 10-14 Chinnor. The Chiltern first half comeback was complete when the Chinnor 10, who was loving a dummy and offload through the tackle, had his pass intercepted by Ollie Choules who ducked, dived and dodged from half way to feed Lloyd Anderson inside the Chinnor 22 to score. 15-14 CHILTERN!
Chinnor ended the half strongly and could have scored but for some stoic Chiltern defence, which forced a knock-on from a Chinnor prop yards from the line. The referee blew for halftime with the game finely poised.
Chiltern were definitely the happier of the two teams after their first half resurgence and had the upper hand at scrums and lineouts, with rucks, defence and attacking play fairly even. The second half started as an arm wrestle with both sides putting phases together with a limited amount of success. Eventually Chinnor managed to force a penalty in front of the Chiltern posts to put themselves back into the lead at 15-17. Straight from the kick-off Chinnor managed to put a number of quick rucking phases together. A strong run and offload from the Chinnor 12, found the fly-half who in turn found the 13 to carry the ball up to the Chiltern line. As the 13 was tackled he offloaded to the Chinnor 4 who was adjudged to have just found the try line. A great conversion extended Chinnor's lead to 15-24.
As was the story of the game so far, Chiltern found their response but this time in bizarre circumstances. From the kick-off, a Chinnor forward decided to control the ball with his foot which only resulted in volleying the ball into the hands of Jack Kenyon who resisted 2 or 3 covering defenders to score. 20-24 and a try bonus point secured for Chiltern!
Chiltern continued the momentum swing with another score following good hands and ground made by the back line. Working the ball from the far right to the far left, Chiltern were yards from the line. Two more carries and Ollie Cato bundled over from close range for his second to give Chiltern the lead again, 25-24! However, as you will have guessed by now, leads weren't lasting very long in this game and Chinnor responded as top of the league sides tend to. Loose ball in the ruck was hacked out by Chinnor, fly hacked again and Chiltern found themselves caught yards from their line with a lack of support. The resulting ruck was turned over and quick ball was fed to the large Chinnor 17, who ran through a gap far too easily and scored! The extras added, meant it was 25-31 to Chinnor with 10 minutes left!
With time running out and neither team willing to give an inch, Chiltern needed a moment of magic from someone. With 5 minutes to play, it arrived! A penalty kicked to touch resulting in a lineout just inside the Chinnor half, led to a free kick for Chiltern when Chinnor were adjudged to have closed the gap. The resulting free kick allowed Chiltern to work the ball wide where another penalty from a high tackle on Joe Batt was awarded on the right touchline. Resisting the calls from the sidelines to go for the corner, Joe Batt took it upon himself to take a quick tap and fed Dom Rice. Rice jinked, stumbled out of 2 tackles and as he was brought down at the third attempt, he spun and threw a one handed offloaded to Jason Kilbey, who was in exactly the right place to sprint clear from 15 yards out. The conversion was missed so it left Chiltern with roughly 3 minutes to find a winning score. 30-31 Chinnor!
From the kick-off a scrappy number of phases ensued, Chiltern desperately offloading to try and keep the ball moving quickly and find a way through the resolute Chinnor defence. A scrum from the right hand channel gave Chiltern a good platform but an intercepted pass allowed Chinnor to kick for territory deep into the Chiltern half (in hindsight probably a bad decision). From the lineout Chiltern managed to earn a penalty in the left hand channel and kick to touch just inside the Chinnor half. The ball was collected by Johnny Rice at the back of the lineout and fed to Jake Choules, the dummy line by Ollie Cato allowed the ball to find Lloyd Anderson in the middle of the park. With less than 30 seconds remaining, destiny was literally in Anderson's hands and he cut a line back inside and somehow managed to find a gap between a cluster of Chinnor players. With the crowd going ballistic, Anderson outpaced the chasing defence and side stepped the Chinnor fullback to score under the posts.
With the first of Chilterns 7 tries (!!!) converted, the referee blew his whistle to give Chiltern an outstanding win, with a final score of 37-31! The respect amongst the players was there for all to see with hugs and handshakes exchanged between all. It was truly a wonderful game to watch for neutral fans, that would not have been if it wasn't for the intensity and good will displayed by both sides.
Ollie Cato deservedly received Man of the Match for his two tries, endless carries, tackles and clear outs, with Joe Batt unlucky not to receive the accolade for his strong carries throughout the game. Honourable mentions go to every player (including Chinnor's) but special thanks must go to the crowd who cheered the Chiltern boys on every minute of the game!
Chiltern are now 8 points behind Chinnor with 6 games left and host Reading Abbey this weekend (11th Feb), who they frustratingly lost to earlier in the season from the last kick of the game.