Chelmsford 71 Canvey Island 5
(London Two North East League)
Despite being understrength once again for the final league game of the season, Chelmsford produced an impressive 10 try- haul, including a hat trick from flanker Josh Clarke and an impressive 21 point hall from scrum half Sasu Wihapu in his final game for the club, as they crushed Canvey Island to record their highest league win since the inception of the leagues in season 1986 – 87.
Chelmsford started on the front foot and a penalty early on saw fly half Dan Trayler put the ball deep into the Canvey 22 and following a break by centre Nick Hankin who terrorised the Canvey defence throughout the game with his searing pace, he fed the ball to wing forward Josh Clarke who was on hand to touch down for a try which was converted by Sasu Wihapu. Chelmsford then suffered a scare when Canvey’s loose head prop had the ball over the line, but the referee deemed a knock on in the lead up to this.
It took Chelmsford a while to get into their stride, but with Sasu Wihapu starting to marshall his troops, Canvey had no answer to their excellent free flowing rugby. From fully 30 metres out Dan Trayler took the ball at speed and burst through the flimsy Canvey defence to score a converted try to take Chelmsford into a 14 – 0 lead. A further 3 tries were scored in the first half, firstly Nick Hankin beat several Canvey would be defenders and centre Paul Welch was in support to score near the posts. Shortly after this Chelmsford were awarded a penalty and another impressive kick to touch by Dan Trayler, saw Josh Clarke dive over for his second try from the catch and drive. To round matters off the 5th try was scored when Sasu Wihapu chipped a kick over the opposition’s heads, the Canvey player was tackled into touch and from the resultant catch and drive, skipper Kevin Prior touched down for a try in his final game as captain.
The second half saw Chelmsford turn round to play up the slope with a lead of 33 – 0. Within the first few minutes Chelmsford were awarded a penalty when Canvey were caught offside and Sasu Wihapu made no mistake with his kick. Chelmsford then begun to run riot at this stage and a few minutes later Nick Hankin broke through the cover defence again, and the ball was slipped to Paul Redford
, who then managed to get the ball away to Josh Clarke for his hat trick try. Canvey were now awarded a penalty and the ball was kicked deep into the Chelmsford 22 and from the line out a catch and drive saw them score an unconverted try. Shortly after this score the ball was fed along the Chelmsford back line and centre Nick Hankin stepped inside to beat several defenders to score an excellent converted try to bring up the 50 points.
Canvey were now penalised twice in succession for not being 10 metres back and Dan Trayler made them pay for this when the ball was drilled to touch right on the Canvey line. Prop Ian Couling was on hand to score the 8th try. Coach Eddie Gooby
gave all his substitutes a run out and this paid dividends in keeping the pressure on their opponents. At this stage Canvey’s discipline seemed to have deserted them and a series of back to back penalties saw Dan Trayler once again put the ball in the corner and from a scrum near the line, number 8 Matt Atkinson broke from the back to score a well worked try to bring the score to 64 – 5. The final try was scored a few minutes later when from a ruck, flanker Paul Redford
dived over to record the 10th and final try, 9 of which were converted by Sasu Wihapu.
was a delighted man after the game, he said” What a fantastic way to finish a very frustrating season. Today we showed what could have been, with backs and forwards linking up to produce some great running tries. The squad has come through some tough times, but today we showed that we are a tighter unit for it and I am already looking forward to next season. It was fitting that this performance came on the last game of the season, when club captain Kevin Prior stepped down and we also said farewell to our overseas players Angus McDonald and Sasu Wihapu, although it is possible that Angus may return next season. This win allows us to go into the off season in great spirits. We have a lot of heeling to do over the next few months and hopefully with a few new players coming in next season we can build on this performance.”