Chippenham RFC

Chippenham U16s vs Cheltenham

by Stephen Preece

Friendly 26th February 2012 Chippenham produce a great performance but narrowly lose by 1 point to a very strong cheltenham Team.

Chippenham travelled to play a strong Cheltenham side who have consistently been County Cup winners as they have moved through the age groups. Chippenham turned up with 18 players, but with no substitute forwards and Nick Haller making his debut for the club a hard game was expected.

Cheltenham kicked off and immediately attacked the Chippenham line. Within 2 minutes Chippenham had conceded the first penalty, but the kick went wide. From then Chippenham were marginally the better Team winning the early scrums and lineouts. On 13 minutes that pressure showed when from a shortened lineout on the Cheltenham 10m line Harry Murphy wins easily, quick ball from Robert Preece finds James Noble, on the half way line, in the back line? With the Head Coach tearing out what remains of his hair and bemoaning his Teams positional play (what the h*ll is James doing there!), James finds a gap through the Cheltenham centre and past the full back with a well-judged handoff to score under the posts. Bradley Doggett converts (0-7). Ah! That’s what he is doing there!

Chippenham should have added to the score 5 minutes later, but a knock-on after winning a lineout 10ms out stops the attack. Cheltenham continue to be a threat, there best attack is stopped 5ms from the line with great tackle from Harry with Robert winning the ball from the isolated tackled player. But it was Chippenham who scored next following a lineout win by Josh Lewis. The ball is quickly worked to Conall Rees who takes it a pace and creates a gap through the centre. When Conall is stopped just short of the line, Bradley is in support to complete the move (0-14).

Cheltenham came back strong and on 26 mins scored their first points when they found space down their right wing. From an ensuing lineout on the 5m line they caught well, mauled and scored with relative ease. Conv missed (5-14). Chippenham hit back almost immediately, Brad produced a near perfect kick off which allowed Harry to chase and then catch, Cheltenham again penalised at the ruck. Bradley converted the penalty (5-17). Cheltenham continued to produce some attacking play but were stopped by either some great defence or by their own poor management of the breakdown. It was the latter that presented Chippenham with more points when Bradley produced one of his best kicks ever when converting a penalty from wide left on the 10m line just on the stroke of half time (5-20). HT

A change to the halfback pairing of Robert and Mac to allow Nick to make his debut meant a shifting of positions in the backs and with Cheltenham getting a roasting from their coach and making a number of changes themselves the second half was going to be very hard. But Chippenham added points within minutes of the restart when Cheltenham were again penalised giving Bradley another opportunity to kick at goal (5-23).

From then on Cheltenham slowly increased the pressure and scored their second try on 43 mins when their 10/12 pairing found gaps through our re-gigged back line (12-23). The usual injury to James (at least he made it past half time!) required another re-gig with wing Mike Hunter moving to flanker. With many Chippenham players still trying to work out where they should be, Cheltenham took advantage and their backs scored again (19-23). Chippenham continued to press and should have scored on 50 minutes when awarded a lineout 10m out, however the throw was adjudged not to be straight and the move broke down.

Fullback Jim Hillier produced another trademark last man tackle 10m from his line to stop a fine Cheltenham move. But on 56 mins Cheltenham took the lead for the first time when 10/12 again found gaps to score with ease (26-23). The Chippenham forwards were clearly flagging and making unforced errors as Cheltenham continued to press. Predictably, on 65 mins they added their fourth try of the half, but the conversion was missed (31-23). Chippenham showed immense courage and determination and pressed the Cheltenham in the last 5 minutes of play and produced a great drive to within sight of the Cheltenham line. When Cheltenham again transgressed at the breakdown it was Bradley who was quickest to react with a tap and go to score from 5m out (31-30). Cheltenham closed out the remaining minute to win this pulsating game by the narrowest of margins.

A great team performance, the first half in particular was probably our best performance all season. An excellent kicking performance by Bradley all game kept us going forward and adding points on the board (that will make his head even bigger!). Chippenham showed great courage and determination in the second half but there is no doubt that the injury’s and positional changes from the substitutions affected our performance against a strengthened Cheltenham pack.

Come on Chippers!

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