Ground Hog day was upon us as we welcomed Brentwood to Weedon Lane for the first match of the new campaign, just as we did two years ago when we came out on top before Brentwood won the league and promotion. It was as ever a pretty new look Chiltern team but still fielding 13 home grown players. Chiltern won the toss on a blustery day and chose to play with the breeze in the first half and after only 4 minutes a penalty kick to touch produced the cheekiest of short lineouts to send Joe Batt over for a try beautifully converted from the touchline by Ollie Choules.
Brentwood hit back and their driving play and good support work gave them field position and they camped close to the Chiltern try line. After some stout defending however, one too many offsides resulted in a yellow card for Lachy Collier. Going down to 14 men took it's toll and it was no surprise that eventually Brentwood scored their first try after 15 minutes which was converted to make the score 7-7.
The Chiltern backs were looking sharp as were the Brentwood pack and several chances came and went for both sides. One too many infringements by Brentwood however gave Choules the chance of a penalty just inside the opposition half which he duly kicked, 10-7 and still an hour of play to go.
Another yellow card against a Chiltern player didn't help the home side's cause nor did some ill discipline from Callum Newton who took exception to his collar being tugged by the Brentwood 9 and reacted too vigorously and received a red card for his troubles just before the half time whistle.
Now facing an uphill battle against the wind and with 14 men Chiltern performed heroically. Time and again they repelled the opposition's attacks whilst still creating attacking sorties themselves. These attacks frustrated Brentwood who resorted to ever more offences of various kinds and whilst the referee penalised them time and again, inexplicably he did not produce a single yellow card against Brentwood. Time ticked on and as we moved into injury time Chiltern produced a wave of moves that finally saw the ball whipped out to the wing. Regrettably the ball was just behind Pip Blake who just couldn't quite hold onto the ball as he dived for the corner, so near but yet so far.
We then went into a bizarre situation of added time. The scrums were now uncontested and yes there was significant injury time but the score remained 10-7 to Chiltern until the 20th minute of added time!!! Two more yellow cards went against Chiltern but still they hung on. They stole Brentwood's line out ball but on their throw and for the first time in the match despite it being a regular occurrence by both sides Chiltern were penalised for "not straight". Brentwood opted for the scrum and with a 3 man advantage finally found enough space to cross in the corner for the winning try!!
Did Chiltern deserve to win, with their ill discipline and poor lineout, probably not but did they deserve to lose, absolutely not especially after their heroics which exposed Brentwood's lack of a cutting edge despite their physicality.
It was without doubt a very encouraging start against a side who were playing at level 5 last year. More will be learned next week when the boys travel the short distance to Uxbridge to face Old Priorians, kick off 3.00pm