Chippenham RFC 1stXV 41-42 Banbury RFC 1stXV
Chippenham lost a cracking match by a single point in a 12 try thriller against a very experienced Banbury.
With the changing of the guard at Allington Palace this season, a youthful side took to the pitch including a couple of 17 years who had graduated through the Clubs Junior ranks. It was a pleasure to welcome Banbury to Allington Fields for the first league fixture of 2019 on a chilly and dry day. Matches between both sides over recent seasons have always been close run affairs and today was certainly yet another one, although not in the favour of Chippenham.
Chippenham were not helped with the withdrawal of man-mountain Gary Williamson due to an injury during the warm up, resulting in the front row warriors Ben Riley, Aaron Clark and Charlie Newman playing the whole match without a breather. This also wouldn’t help the uphill tussle that would be the scrums. Banbury were back to full strength and brought an impressive team that looked like it was going to a bit of a David v Goliath and the early stages certainly didn’t bode well.
Chippenham couldn’t get their hands on the ball in the early stages and Banbury scored a couple of converted tries within the first 10 minutes making it 0-14. Thankfully from the kick off, the lads went through a few phases and then great hands from Charlie Quarren-Evans and Matt Dickens created a gap for the latter to scream through and score from 40 meters out. Louis Ayliffe made the extras and Chippenham showed their intent. 7-14. Banbury went back to their strengths but it wasn’t long until a determined run from Gareth Angell opened up space for the impressive Tom Fogerty to sprint over for the 2nd try. Ayliffe with the conversion 14-14.
Chippenham played more quick Rugby and Jacob Unwin tore through the defence and fed the ball to Charlie QE to score out wide. Ayliffe was just wide with the kick but Chippenham took the lead 19-15 in this open ended match. This seemed to stir Banbury and they kept the ball tight to score another converted try and soon showed some good pace in the backs and scored their bonus point try. With the conversion, they had taken a 19-28 lead into the half time break. It certainly had been an entertaining half, involving 7 trys and 2 teams showing their different styles of play, with Chippenham showing their intent, which Banbury struggled to hold them at stages.
The excellent Referee got the second half underway and if the first half was entertaining, this was a real thriller!! Not sure what was said during the break but Chippenham started like men on a mission, scoring 3 tries and a penalty before Banbury even troubled the scoreboard again. Oli Alcorn started it off and could have scored but the Referee adjudged a knock on but within a matter of minutes, Unwin showed speed of thought and feet and scored the bonus point try under the posts. Ayliffe obliged and it was 26-28. The pace that Chippenham showed troubled Banbury and they soon conceded another try after a rampaging move involving the dynamic back row trio of Dickens, Charlie Palmer and Ed Hendy which was finished off again by Unwin in the corner. The kick was missed but Chippenham were now leading 31-28 and Banbury were tiring and giving away penalties. It wasn’t long until the exciting back line caused more problems and Alcorn broke through the Banbury defence and scored a lovely try. Ayliffe converted and also added a nice penalty after another Banbury infringement to stretch the lead to 41-28 and Chippenham were looking nicely in control and Banbury out on their feet.
Now, we’re not comparing this to a boxing match as this game was played in a very good spirit and not a yellow card in sight but, just like the Wilder v Fury match, when you saw Tyson Fury, seemingly down, out for the count and on his back… but then an eye blinks… and amazingly he slowly gets up, clears his brain and goes back to Plan A. This is what exactly Banbury did. On 78 minutes, a number of forward attacks and a lucky bounce resulted in a Banbury lineout near the Chippenham line. They stuck to Plan A and duly rumbled over for a try. This was converted making it 41-35 and it all got a bit tense. Chippenham kept to their plan but lost the ball in a couple of dangerous areas and soon it was the rejuvenated Banbury who mounted another attack after Chippenham were adjudged to have infringed at the breakdown. From the attacking lineout, Banbury spread the ball and their fly half cut a line through the previously excellent Chippenham back-line defence and scored near the posts. This made it 41-40 but the extras were added without too much trouble, putting Banbury back in front by 41-42.
The Referee indicated there were only a minute left and regardless of the massive efforts of the Chippenham team, they couldn’t affect the score and avoid losing the closest of matches to a good Banbury side.
The spirit of the Chippenham side was never broken although understandably, this one hurt. They played a dynamic style that at times, Banbury couldn’t keep up with and the youngsters will learn from this for the matches ahead.
We wish Banbury well for the rest of the season and look forward to resuming our close matches in seasons to come.