Champagne and Guinness?
East, Wilkins, Fairley, Race, Dewhurst, Crossfield, Gurney, Drewett, Owen, Anderson, Morris, Weatherall, Barraclough, Chadwick, Woodroff, Nelson, Booth, Cohen, Newlands, Akerman.
A crisp Autumn morning set against an azure sky set the scene for todays challenge. Touchline gossip analysed the resounding English victory against the Springbok’s and strayed to the impending Trump presidency – an accumulator on Leicester, Brexit and Trump could have yielded £4.5m for a £1 stake! What odds a Chiltern victory I wonder?
Following the failure of Reading to raise a side last week this was our first game in our new Bucks, Berks & Oxfordshire League. We took our places in the wonderful stand behind a railing reminiscent of stadiums past, almost prompting a chorus of Jerusalem. Lens envy amongst the press pack (well Doug) instantly forgotten as the game kicked off at midday.
Chilts were caught napping from the start, an early scrum for Maidenhead, a fast break by the centre, an offload to the wing and a score in the corner. Maidenhead take a quick 5-0 lead, not converted.
This shocks Chilts into action.
Following the restart, Tom Crossfield makes a great tackle, Huey Chadwick takes a sky ball and Jake Wilkins chips from the base of the maul. The first of a rash of high tackles by Maidenhead leads to a penalty and the first Chiltern line out, as Monty kicks sublimely to touch.
The Chiltern set piece runs like clockwork, Jake throwing impeccably to Jack, soaring like a Red Kite in the Buckinghamshire sky, setting up a forward break-away and a bulldozing Harry East charge, dragging Maidenhead players in his wake. Another lineout follows.
Jack at the front receives the ball, offloading to Jake who snipes off the back, havoc in the Maidenhead ranks resulting in a deserved penalty for Chilts. Quick thinking and quick hands by Jake who takes a tap & go penalty (though he nearly doesn’t take his own pass!), Huey receives and flips on to Blake who sneaks over for a try in the far corner, parity restored. A testing conversion scuds passed the posts and it’s game on, 5-5.
The restart leads to a scrum for Chilts, this time it’s a number 8 move by Will Drewett who picks and goes. Huey gets released and it’s a signature back move with Monty, Huey, Jake and Ollie all linking up.
Forcing a Maidenhead high tackle - another Monty kick and faultless lineout creates more Chilts pressure, with a Monty kick through the catalyst for mayhem. The Maidenhead defence failing to touch down the ball in the dead ball area, they then try to run it out, fall back, and then try for a second touch down. Rule-book training needed by Maidenhead - 5m scrum to Chilts.
White line fever infects the Chilts back line with Will held up within touching distance, and other players darting for the line around the posts - patience needed boys! Maidenhead defence just holds firm but no surprises as a scrum is awarded under the posts for Chilts, a great attacking position with options either side. Quick thinking and quick hands gets the ball to Blake who stretches a long arm, Kuridrani like, to score. Monty converts coolly, 12-5 the lead.
[Blake Try, Monty Conversion]
The next period of play sees more great distribution by Devan, good interchanges, powerful runs, Ollie Anderson tenacity in the tackle, neat hands by Blake and fantastic tacking close to the Chilts line preventing a Maidenhead score. Huey deserves special mention as more than once he’s the last line of defence, nailing tackles and preventing a Maidenhead resurgence.
The next score is cut from the same cloth as the first, a Jake break from a flawless line-out, Ben Race in close support driving over fearlessly, all forcing a desperate clearance kick by Maidenhead. Blake catches at half way skips into a run and then it’s twinkling back play as Huey, Blake and Zac combine to set up a Monty score. A great team try topped off by another conversion. 19-8 to Chilts and is that daylight as the half time whistle blows?
[Monty Try, Monty Conversion]
Half time sees Tom Newlands on for Charlie, and Oscar on for Jack.
Maidenhead run the phases on the restart, eventually being forced by great defence to kick to the dangerous Huey Chadwick at full back who pins his ears back – going on a fantastic jinking run, first lateral then direct at the heart of the Maidenhead defence causing chaos - a deft, beautifully timed pass to Blake and its another score in the corner, wow! Monty converts and it’s looking comfortable at 26-8.
[Blake Try, Monty Conversion]
Ben Race snaffles the restart sky ball like a Maro Itoje disciple to set up the Chilts play, but another high tackle by Maidenhead (the 5th!) stops play for yet another Chilts penalty. Oscar Akerman takes the line out ball this time, but the phases fizzle out with yet another Chilts penalty. Monty goes for the three points, surely? nearly? No! The post intervenes with a clang.
Maidenhead run it out, but a knock on leads to a centre field scrum and another great attacking position. Will goes again from the base with a powerful break to the Maidenhead 22m line, Maidenhead steal the ball and kick again to relieve the pressure – but Blake has other ideas, a jink, a dummy, a sprint, a try! Euphoria in the stands and that’s four tries to the imperious Blake. 31-8.
Chilts ring the changes…Ethan comes on for an injured Devan at 9, a position he adapts to well, Max takes over from Harry E., Kieran and Oscar take over from Ben and Will (injured) respectively.
Tom Crossfield breaks cover, but Maidenhead again steal the ball, they break again storming the Chilts defence but yet again Huey stops a certain score with Oscar powerfully holding up the Maidenhead attacker. This is great defence. A scrum follows on the 5 metre line. Monty fields the ball in the dead ball area but slips, danger! He leaps back up in the nick of time with Maidenhead bearing down, a side-step and he’s free… feeding the ball along the line but this time the centres can’t quite find the gap. Maidenhead secure the ball and spin it along the line and this time it’s Tom Newlands who makes a cracking tackle, belying his size, wonderful technique.
The match all goes tepid for a few minutes, scrappy play, missed passes, and Maidenhead sniff a chance. Matthew Dewhurst stops a certain try, then Adam Fairley gets in on the act with a great tackle. A Trump-like wall on the Chilts line? But no, Maidenhead find the tunnel to score under the posts. 31-15.
It’s Oscar’s turn to wrap up the restart runner, winning a scrum. Matt Dewhurst and Ethan get in on the act with good close work and sharp tackling. Zac drives into the line but Maidenhead turnover, kick to touch and it’s a lineout to Chilts.
What follows is a Champagne moment, Huey takes a Maidenhead kick up-field, offloads to Ollie who breaks with power, suddenly space appears as Maidenhead lay out the red carpet and show the way to the posts. Ollie needs no second invitation storming into the space with confidence to score under the posts. Sublime. 38-15
[Ollie Try, Monty Conversion].
A soft try by Maidenhead spoils the party as they stroll over into the corner, a conversion makes the score 38-22 but that’s it for the day.
The full time appraisal – great backs freedom and slick handling, very good set piece with a rock solid scrum and a flawless lineout, particularly in the first half, Monty kicking sublime. Tackling good, especially in the 22 yard zone, but better support of the breakaway runner may have led to an even better score-line! All the players got game time and a good win to boot.
Wonderful entertainment, now about that Guinness?