A claggy, sodden affair ideal for up-the-jumper rugby
But creating a dilemma for the Man of the Match
U16 Bucks Cup Semi Final v Buckingham
A dreary drive to the ground suggested a morning cowering from dark clouds, sheltering from vicious rain. But the gods relented to part the clouds and allow hints of blue to shine through. The pitch on the other hand was a claggy, sodden affair ideal for up-the-jumper rugby and the clogging of washing machines with mud soaked shirts.
Talk before the game was of food left after the excesses of Christmas, with living rooms full of chocolate and fridges stuffed with cheese. A game that contained a doughnut was surely a fitting tribute.
The Chilts team was well manned with only a few of the boys suffering from excesses of mince pies and the demands of revision.
From the kick off the Chilts intensity was obvious, with shouts of ‘ice’ and good defence from the off. A solid scrum set the pattern for the first half leading to a Jake Wilkins drive and an Ollie Anderson clearance. The kick return led to touch and the first line out for Jake, always a tester. No such problems as a clean take sees the ball shipped to Zac Collingbourne on the wing for his first break of many, a ruck follows, only for a high tackle to end the fun.
The restart sees Jake making yards, passing to Will Drewett who feeds Adam Fairley. Gaps appears in the Buckingham defence as Adam steals the final 5 metres for a swift score on the left side. The conversion isn’t taken but a great start for 5-0.
[Over to the touchline interviewer, Adam’s dad cornered by our correspondent – “I didn’t see it? He doesn’t get tries, and certainly not on the wing.” Time for new glasses dad?]
From the kick off Buckingham set their defence, Tommy Deane runs through tackles, Buckingham get a turnover and spin it down their back line, they don’t clear their lines and Blake Morris absolutely nails a tackle right under the Buckingham posts. It’s a scrum 5 metres out.
Again the scrum creates a solid platform for the newly promoted Aaron Merle who’s playing out of position as scrum half. Clean ball to Will, who ships to Isaac MacDonald, who storms over the whitewash – a score in the right hand corner this time. A Buckingham defence stretched to the limit.
Monty finds his direction for a superb conversion to make it an early 12-0 lead, what a start!
Buckingham don’t crumble as many teams would. They find their mojo for a sustained period of pressure and a flurry of penalties for Buckingham. They try a kick from just inside the half that just falls short and sees Will return it with interest. Monty stops a certain try 5 metres from the line. Ollie does the same in the face of a three on two overlap. Ben Race joining the party with his own try stopper. If this match had a heat map the last 10 minutes would be all inside the Chilts 22 yard area in the left hand box.
This is great 15 man defence by Chilts as Buckingham throw the sink, washing machine and a couple of kitchen chairs in an effort to find a score. No dice.
It’s Chilts turn to pile on the pressure and it’s Buckingham’s turn to defend. Ben, Zac and Will combine to force a defensive touch kick by Buckingham to their own 22 yard line.
The line out is slick as Jake finds his jumper (a left over all Christmas affair with reindeer and a Santa?), a clean take gets the ball wide to Blake who weaves magic on the wing for a try in the corner. Another excellent conversion from the touchline puts Chilts 19-0 up.
A scrappy restart from Buckingham doesn’t go 10 metres and it’s a restart scrum from the centre spot. Lateral play and turnover ball gets a scrum the other way for Buckingham. They send the ball along the line but Chilts intensity wins again, this time in the form of the barnstorming double act of Blake & Zac who stampede into offence.
A hurried kick clearance by Buckingham is taken cleanly on the run by a stooping Monty to set up yet another attack, Harry East steps in to charge like a rhino into the heart of the Buckingham defence with three defenders hanging off his shirt, only for the ball to pop out like a bar of soap in a Sunday bath. Buckingham just can’t get out of their half… but they do finally break free, storming over the half way line.
Tommy Deane makes the first tackle then Will joins in, flying cross-field to up-end a Buckingham player - borderline dangerous? The referee agrees and it’s a yellow card for a chuntering Will who storms off in a red mist.
A couple more plays end an entertaining half…
MacDonald (T) Weatherall (C)
Morris (T) Weatherall (C)
Matthew Rutherford and Tom Crossfield enter the fray at half time for Ben Race and Matthew Dewhurst in the second row. Later in the half we also see Ethan Nelson, Oscar Akerman & Kieran Booth bring important contributions to the game. Meanwhile, Jack Gurney acts as a secure lineout jumper despite playing at Centre, and Jack Allen who narrowly misses the chance to repeat his feat of the last 2 years and get a try at Christmas.
Would the slight slope make any difference in the second half? Not a chance.
Buckingham run back the Chilts restart, Tommy makes a clean tackle to force a line out. The pattern of the second half is set, Buckingham can’t escape their 22, Chilts pressing and covering the line, trapping Buckingham in their own territory. ake breaking and sniping, Harry sucking in payers on the charge, Jack flying in the line out, Aaron solid behind a scrum that’s beginning to creak.
A moment of brilliance by Zac creates the next score, with a fabulous show & go that totally wrong foots the Buckingham defence. Blake on his shoulder cheerfully takes the pass for another score (not converted). 24-0.
The restart gets Buckingham rare territory in the Chilts half, and a storming Buckingham attack is stopped in its tracked by the impressive George Knowles. Substitutions don’t disrupt the play as Zac continues his attacking form, George breaks brilliantly to the Buckingham 22 and Jack clears out ruthlessly.
The game seems to get stuck for a while as a mass of humanity all brown, claggy and covered in mud rumble around in scrums, mauls and rucks with no quarter given. It’s all in the Buckingham 22, a highlight being an Oscar Akerman barnstormer as he charges through to wrap a Buckingham player like a late Christmas present, supported by the tenacious George.
Buckingham try the left side, then pass laterally to the right, with no real yardage and another sublime Monty clearance kick puts the pressure back on. A swift back move gains yards with Zac, Blake and Monty all combining for massive yards. Everyone joins in the party to shove, push and heave the ball towards the goal line, only to be thwarted by the touch line. Nearly.
Buckingham clear for a line out cleanly thrown by Jake to Jack who feeds to the backs. This is good tit for tat stuff. Another 5 metre scrum and more pressure. It’s Ollie’s turn to create the space, he feeds Zac, and a zip pass to Blake gives him the sniff of the line. He needs no second bidding as he bundles over for his third try and a 29-0 lead.
The restart is cleared out by Kieran Booth, a chase, more quick passing but no end product this time as the whistle goes.
An impressive 29-0 victory and that doughnut that really tells the story of the match, Buckingham just couldn’t break a crack defence. Chilts, however, nailed their chances, finding and storming through slivers of gaps in the Buckingham line. Every Chilts player stood up to be counted, no quarter given, creating a dilemma for the Man of the Match.
The coaches vote went to Blake for his hat-trick of tries, the parents vote went to George who was awesome in defence, the players vote went to Aaron who played scrum half as a pivot for a host of moves, whilst this writers vote goes to Will who was everywhere in defence, alongside his dance partner Tommy.
The final word goes to the Bhuddist, Pete, who suggests that the scrum needs more work, as it should be flatter and lower to create more forward drive. Only a Welshman could find fault in a 29-0 English victory on the battlefields of Buckingham.
On to the final, to be played on Mothering Sunday against Beaconsfield.
Akerman, Allen, Anderson, Booth, Collingbourne, Crossfield, Deane, Dewhurst, Drewett, East, Fairley, Gurney, Knowles, MacDonald, Merle, Morris, Nelson, Newlands, Race, Rutherford, Weatherall, Wilkins.
Scribe: Phil Race