Youthful Chippenham triumph over Trowbridge
A cracking local derby resulted in Chippenham winning convincingly by 23-39.
The first match of the season was played away at Trowbridge on a lovely dry day and on a good pitch with a stiff breeze blowing down the slight slope from left to right. With a number of the more seasoned players taking a step down after many years great service to the Club, it was a youthful 1stXV who took the pitch for this season opener. It was great to see so many lads who have developed through the Clubs Mini and Junior sections and congratulations to the 7 players making their 1stXV debuts and what a match to do it in. Trowbridge were definitely ‘Up’ for this match after winning promotion last season and wanting to turn the tables after never beating Chippenham previously in a league fixture. In front of a packed crowd with a huge number from Chippenham, the Referee started the game.
Trowbridge were playing with the advantage of the slope and the breeze in the first half and it soon started to show. Using their strengths, they kept the ball fairly tight and tried to tie Chippenham into an arm-wrestle. Regardless of this, the Chippenham lads played to the excellent game plan put together by the coaching team of Topper Brown, Rob Hawkins, Jack Howden and Chris Simmons and held Trowbridge out until a lucky kick ahead from their No15 and he regathered to score the opener, which was converted. Chippenham then conceded a penalty and Trowbridge made it 10-0 after a quarter of an hour. The scrum contested manfully and young scrum half, Ben Hathaway did a great job harrying his opposite number, who got a bit up tight, as did quite a few Trowbridge players who got a bit overheated on a warm day. Chippenham stuck to the plan and it wasn’t long until the pace created chaos in the Trowbridge for Captain Aaron Clark to score Chippenham’s first try, which went unconverted. With the game at 10-5 and the excellent referee getting a bit fed up with the Trowbridge back chat but meanwhile both sides scored a penalty a piece taking it to 13-8. Chippenham were back on the attack but soon coughed up another penalty which was slotted through the posts by the Trowbridge No10 leaving the match at 16-8 as the half-time whistle was blown.
The first half had been a tough slog for the Chippenham side and now they had the advantage of the slight slope and the breeze but most importantly, they had belief in the plan and a clear focus of the goal. The second half also saw the introduction of the impressive Tyler Lewis for his debut. The match restarted and soon the plan was working, apart from a few little mistakes that held up progress until a superb flat pass from Hathaway saw Jacob Unwin crash over the line at pace and score the 2nd Chippenham try. This went unconverted leaving it 16-13 but then Trowbridge came straight back and launched an attack which got them over the line and score a try which the Referee judged had been grounded. The conversion was successful and it opened up a 10 point difference at 23-13 but as it turned out, this was the only points Trowbridge would score in the 2nd half. Soon the slick handling and pace from Chippenham told with Nick Hill controlling things well at Fly half and soon the speed of ball got Unwin over the line for his 2nd try. This was well converted by young Al MacKenzie leaving it 23-20 and Chippenham were now totally on top. Next swift handling from the back line created space for Clark to score his second try and this was followed quickly by superb speed and handling from young Charlie Quarren-Evans who laid on a perfect pass for his fellow winger, Louis Ayliffe to score. Both tries were converted well by MacKenzie and Chippenham had rushed into a 23-34 lead. The final move of the match saw the impressive back row of Charlie Palmer, Ed Hendy and Matt Dickens combine superbly and then the ball spread swiftly along the line for Quarren-Evans to scorch down the touch line, score a great try and finish the match 23-39.
This ended a cracking Wiltshire derby where fitness and skills came out on top in the second half with Chippenham scoring 31 points against 7 points from Trowbridge.
Next week Chippenham are playing at home against Wimborne, 3.00pm KO.