Ays win close game
Sometime you have to win ugly....
These two teams last played each other at the end of last season, when Ay's put in a commanding performance , so it was going to be interesting to see how all the boys had progressed - made more so that they would meet again in this season's Plate final towards the end April.
Ay's started strongly, showing good organisation and physicality at the breakdown. Moving the ball quickly from side to side, Ay's quickly moved into a 5-0 lead, but before the conversion was taken, both 7s were shown a yellow card. Ay's responded the best to the set back and quickly added another converted try (14-0). Ay's were applying lots of pressure and better decision making on where to attack could have seen this lead extended, and perhaps the game put to rest. Two excellently executed but ultimately disallowed tries did not help with maintaining the boys' mental focus or discipline. However, inevitably, Chesham got themselves back into the game through some strong direct running and the last 10 minutes of the first half were theirs, resulting in a converted try to make the score at half-time (14-7). Ay's were guilty of too many missed tackles against the stronger opposition runners, and although Chesham were guilty of numerous unpunished offences at the breakdown, Ay's needed to tighten up their ball presentation and clearing out to deal with it.
After half-time, Ays started strongly, again asserting their technical dominance and scoring another converted try to take the score to 21-7. Unfortunately, Ay's then allowed Chesham back into the game, kicking the ball repeatedly to their 14 and 15 who were able to run the ball back with interest. Ays lost their game shape, with runners going into contact on their own, resulting in numerous turnovers and penalties. Ill discipline eventually cost Ays another YC and Chesham were able to capitalise on the extra man and scored a try, crucially unconverted. More unforced errors by Ay's, a on-going lack of attacking line speed and being guilty of trying to force the game saw more and more turnovers, and the momentum of the game had firmly swung towards Chesham. It was inevitable that Chesham should go over for another try, this time converted (21-19), to set up a nail biting last five minutes. Ays though got a foothold back in the game through some very strong running and offloading through the centre by the forwards, and drove Chesham back into their own half, where the game was played out to the final whistle.
Although this was not a great technical performance by Ays, they nonetheless were able to dig deep and grind out a result, despite being well below the standards we know they are capable off. It shows the continued development and maturity of the team that they kept their heads, and did what was needed to get the result they sought.
Excellent performances from Kristian, George P and Ben, and once again, selfless commitment to the team by Max, Tom and James.