Akerman, Anderson, Bellamy, Booth, Chadwick, Collingbourne, Deane, Dewhurst, Drewett, East, Fairley, Griffiths, Gurney, Knowles, Merle, Morris, Nelson, Newlands, Race, Rutherford, Shepherd, Weatherall, Wilkins
Travelling reserves: MacDonald, Owen, Woodroff
Mothering Sunday, with cooked breakfasts delivered and promises of dinners to come made the boys turn their minds to the game at hand. Daffodils waft in the strong breeze as planes fly in the azure sky, vapour trails leaving evidence of journeys passed.
The crowd cheers as the gladiators take to the field for the 2017 Bucks Cup final between rivals who have battled many a time over the years.
Tension hangs in the air, as Monty Weatherall does the honours, kicking off with the strong breeze over his left shoulder.
The early rallies see nerves from both sides - dropped balls, injuries and penalties. The pattern of the first few minutes is Beaconsfield pressure, strong Amersham defence, sniping short-lived breaks, lineouts and the occasional maul. Will Drewett taking early honours for breaking the gain line, George Knowles making strong early tackles and Zac Collingbourne rushing well in defence.
After only a few minutes Ben Race is asked to take the field as sub for Ed Griffiths, the first of many disruptive injuries to the Amersham defensive line.
The wind is playing havoc with the Amersham lineout as the normally dependable Jake Wilkins fails to find his jumpers, leading eventually to Beaconsfield pressure on the Amersham 5-metre line. A held up maul leads to a 5-metre scrum close to the Amersham line. Amersham hold the scrum well but Beaconsfield still get clean possession, spinning the ball, only to be stopped by Matt Bellamy.
Defence rapidly turns into attack as Zac, then Blake Morris find precious space. The resulting line out to Amersham on the Beaconsfield 22 is scragged by Beaconsfield who break cover, only to find Harry East who makes a try saving tackle - clinging on courageously to a Beaconsfield leg, like a bulldog with its jaws around the Sunday roast. Harry gets injured for his troubles but gets up gingerly to re-join the fray.
The ball finds its way to Ollie Anderson who tries a deft kick using the wind advantage, only for the ball to be charged down and returned with interest for the first points of the game, try to Beaconsfield. Not converted. 5-0.
It’s clear that Beaconsfield are “up for it”.
Amersham try to match the intensity with Will breaking free, Adam Fairley joining in, as does Benjo who picks and drives through the ruck. Close, so close, to an equaliser but no, Will is held up for a 5-metre scrum. Again Will goes low, fighting for the line, but is held up short and takes a “stinger” for his troubles. Matt Rutherford taking to the field.
Monty takes a Beaconsfield clearance kick cruising back into battle, with Blake gliding alongside as his wing man. Goose to Monty’s Maverick (Top Gun 1986), surely space will appear? But no, the Beaconsfield defence holds firm like a Mexican wall in a Donald Trump dream. Huey Chadwick has a go but is hauled down. Holding on by Beaconsfield and some backchat sees Amersham in promising territory but sadly the wall holds firm, despite the best efforts of Matt Bellamy and Max Shepherd who both snipe and dart.
A penalty for not releasing near the half way line creates a challenging points scoring opportunity, Monty so nearly gets the ball over the posts. The cross bar dipping in the middle - like a tennis net on a council court drooping after a long cold winter. The ball drifts wide on the swirling wind.
Phase after phase in the Beaconsfield half, Ollie taps, Jake goes, Tommy Deane puffs, but all to no avail as the half time whistle sounds.
How to sum up the half? The Beaconsfield defence is impressive. Amersham speedsters just can’t find space and the wind is making lineouts treacherous - more intensity in the ruck to seize the initiative?
The Beaconsfield restart is accurate. They retain the ball, spinning it left, then back across the centres to their right. Good Amersham defence creates a rolling maul that nearly does the trick for Beaconsfield but the ball is held up. The mysteries of scrum laws sees a reset scrum handed to Amersham and solid ball lets Amersham backs have a go, only for a dropped ball to kill the move.
Beaconsfield win the ball in centre field, just under the posts - Benjo, Harry and George are called into action, matching up tackles to force Beaconsfield wide. Tommy joins the defensive party but a quick tap penalty and drive by Beaconsfield forwards finds the whitewash for a 10-0 lead. The decisive score? Not converted.
Monty’s kick off is chased with ferocity - Adam Fairley, Ethan Nelson and Matt Dewhurst forcing the ball into touch. Jake calls the 654321 move, a dummy leaping salmon at the back of the lineout whilst the ball is fired to the front man. Smart. But again that soap bar appears, dropped ball giving Beaconsfield possession. Amersham steal it back and Blake again tries to batter the door down, everyone joins in to the rolling maul, 5, 10, 15 yards… but no dice and Beaconsfield get a scrum.
Beaconsfield break from their own 22, ship it along their backs and find space out wide, running around the desperate Amersham drift defence for their third try. Not converted. 15-0, surely game over?
Amersham intensity rises, Benjo has a go, Blake shoves, Zac pushes, Max bursts, Jake snipes, Jack Gurney drives, but the resilient Beaconsfield defence just mops up the pressure.
The Amersham finishers flood the pitch with Aaron Merle, Oscar Akerman, Tom Newlands, Isaac McDonald, Max Woodroff and Kieran Booth taking to the turf. A rumbling, determined run by Jack Gurney creates pandemonium in the Beaconsfield defence for the first time in the game, Zac profits, and finally the ball crosses the Beaconsfield line with Max Shepherd at the bottom of the heap. Monty slots the difficult kick and we all look at our watches – enough time for a miracle?
Sadly not, a few minutes to go and Beaconsfield have time to seal the deal with a kick chase, a clean re-cycle, and a swift break for their fourth try and a final score of 22-7.
The after-match speeches talk of competitiveness, intensity, commitment and effort and, whilst Amersham & Chiltern displayed all of these in parts, this final has slipped by. The season is not over. The Cup is a 70 minute fight to the death. But the League is still well within our grasp.
Our A League Team have the chance to put the polish on a fantastic season with a push to take what we learned from the Cup Final and bring it to bare on an unsuspecting Bracknell side. Let’s train together to win together.
Scribe: Phil Race