Aylesbury retain Plate in repeat of last year's final
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
This year saw Aylesbury line up against Chesham to compete for the Plate, in a repeat of last year's final. The two teams had only played each other a few weeks ago in a OBB U16s league match, with Ay's narrowly edging the win, so it was going to be interesting to see what surprises the two teams had in store for each other having had a early peek at each others style of play.
As expected, Chesham came flying out the blocks for the first 10 minutes - absolutely determined to get revenge for recent results. Ays defence was solid, with Chesham only managing to get one break down the wing before being snuffed out by Matt. In the scrums Ays had the edge, a great tribute to the enormous amount of work the boys had put in over the past month. In the lineouts both sides struggled to get their throws straight as the gusty wind played havoc with both hookers' aim. Chesham were making good ground attacking narrow on both sides of the ruck, and Ays were penalised a few times for offside and going off their feet. Gradually though, as Ay's weathered the initial storm, they began to move through the gears. Patience was the name of the game. Chesham were clearly worried about the threat Ays posed with their wide channel running rugby, which meant eventually gaps started to appear in the middle. With Chesham's focus on the creative Ays backline, it was inevitable that the first try came from one of the Ays forwards, George Harmon. Again, an area focused on in training came to fruition, with George H spotting the dog leg and running through from the 22 to score a marvellous try. (7-0)
That try clearly settled a few nerves in the Ays team, and so it was not a surprise to see a second try follow quite swiftly. Again, with Chesham focused on the perceived threat from "off 13", Ays 9 Tom Miles unlocked the door at the breakdown and sniped over for an excellently taken try (14-0).
Ays were now starting to move through the gears and there was a risk they might run away with it. To their credit, Chesham responded and stepped up their defensive line speed, but in their eagerness to stay in the game starting to infringe offside at the breakdown, and high tackles crept in. With Ays looking dangerous in the winger channel and also 13/15, Chesham were beginning to to suffer a bit from "it's behind you" fever, and inevitably Ays 10 and 12, run a beautiful mid-field switch that saw the entire Chesham back line buy the wrong line, leaving George a simple run in under the posts. A very clever try. Score at half-time (21-0)
Unsurprisingly Chesham started the second half brightly, and came out the blocks with passion. Unfortunately, too much passion, and an over zealous tackle saw them receive a Yellow Card. Being a man down, Ays did the right thing and started to stretch the opposition from side to side. Ays were now piling on the pressure and credit to the Chesham team for putting up resolute resistance. Ays though weren't having it, and now it was Ays 10, Joseph's turn to change from playmaker to executioner. With the opposition back line now convinced the threat was only out wide, Joseph made a number of linebreaks forcing the Chesham to turn and scramble. On one break, a simple pass inside to support from the Ays 9, Tom, saw the simplest of touch downs. (28-0)
From the restart, a series of rucks, lineouts and scrums saw Ays inside their own 22 on a scrum. For some reason a rush of blood saw try one pass too many, and a Chesham player was able to intercept/rip the ball out of the arms of the Ays back as he received it, spin out of the contact and run over the line to finally get Chesham on the scoreboard (28-5). Annoyed with themselves, Ays kicked on, and now posing threats all over the pitch it was time to unleash yet another option. A clever kick and chase from the Ays 10 set up a foot race between Matt and the Chesham winger. Just as Matt looked to be clear, the Chesham winger clearly changed his line, running into Matt and taking him out off the ball. Some unfortunate comments from spectators slightly soured the atmosphere in that corner, questioning the integrity of the referee, but it was all largely pointless as from the resulting penalty, Kristian was able to eventually get over the line (35-5).
Chesham managed to get a consolation score (35-10) before Ays winger Tom had to be carried off the pitch after a very nasty and dangerous tackle. Then, clearly coming out in sympathy for his opposite number, Chesham's primary threat, their powerful 14, had to be carried off after landing awkwardly on his ankle and having players land on top of him. We wish both of them a very speedy recovery.
The final word fittingly went to Ays. Spinning the ball wide, Litto was let lose and quickly went through the gears, his legs a blur of motion. Only yet another high tackle prevented him scoring a wonderful try, and with the resulting penalty being the last play of the game, only time kept the cards in the referee's pocket. Morgan decided that enough was enough, and powered through the Chesham defence for a try. Final score 42-10
Special mention at this point to Ben K, who converted all six tries, a number of which were in very difficult locations and with an unhelpful breeze.
It is difficult to explain just how clever a performance this was by Aylesbury, and it is a huge tribute to the boys growing game management, self belief and maturity that they were able to execute the game plan so effectively and with such precision. Boys - you've come a long long way in the past couple of years, we're all so very proud of you. You have enormous potential over the next couple of seasons. Good luck with your exams, enjoy your summer and we hope to see all of you as you start the next step in your rugby journey, as Colts.