Chippenham U16’s v Salisbury U16’s – Sunday 15 April – Wiltshire Finals
Chippenham pulled a hard–earned 14-17 win from the hat after a below par performance away at Salisbury.
After all the pool games had been completed through the season, it left Chippenham and Salisbury as the 2 unbeaten teams of the respective pools and it was going to be another Wiltshire Final between them to see who would go onto the Dorset & Wilts Final. Over the years, both teams have met on a number of occasions including the Bath 7’s Final on The Rec and every match has been eagerly contested. Thankfully, it’s always been Chippenham who have prevailed and so it was today.
It was an early start and a trek southwards for the Chippenham squad and they all assembled ready for this one. After the warm-ups and a bit of sizing each other up, both teams took to the Salisbury 1stXV pitch where they were warmly welcomed by a large and slightly partisan crowd. Salisbury are a very good side, with a number of very big forwards and plenty of power and pace in the back line so this was going to be a tough match.. The tensions rose as the excellent D&W Referee blew to start the match. Chippenham kicked off and were playing up the slight slope but it was the pumped up Salisbury side who showed their determination from the first whistle. They wanted this one but it was Chippenham who smashed it up through the forwards and after winning quick ball, it was spun swiftly along the back line for Will to score a nice try in the corner. 0-5 and you’d hope that any nerves would have calmed but after this try, Chippenham could not get into their stride and kept coughing up the ball time after time through missed passes, knock-ons, wayward kicks and too many penalties. It was an odd performance and allowed Salisbury to strike back with a well worked try under the posts that was converted. 7-5. Soon after, Salisbury pulled further ahead when too many missed tackles allowed their winger to score. This was also converted and it was 14-5 and Chippenham were not in a good place. The attacks they mounted often made good ground but then all that ground was handed back with a daft mistake. On a few occasions, they did pin Salisbury back after they got a bit rattled and conceded penalties for high tackles. Thankfully the scrum was dominate and the lineout was being bossed by the Chippenham jumpers and Jake just being Jake… But Salisbury continued to take every opportunity and only determined tackling from Will, Elliott, Tim, Ben W and others held them out and prevented any more scores before the whistle was blown for half time.
A few words from the Coaches and few words amongst the Chippenham squad got them refocused and with the slight advantage of the slope, the second half started. It was Salisbury who conceded possession after kicking the restart straight into touch and gave good field position to Chippenham. The ball was now being controlled better and Josh was close to scoring down the wing but held up by determined Salisbury defence. The pressure mounted on Salisbury with each attack but the little errors crept in again and a number of them fizzled out. When they did get up some pace, the ball was spun down the line for Tim to do a great impression of a juggler but finally snatched the ball and scored a great determined try in the corner. Alex was close with the extras but it was now 14-10 and Chippenham knew they had to raise it again. Salisbury were starting to tire and conceded a number of penalties with the final one earning their winger a yellow card. Even with a man advantage, Chippenham still couldn’t click into gear and kept handing the ball back to Salisbury but thankfully from one of their clearing kicks, it finally clicked!! Alex took the ball cleanly and set off on a great return, using Josh to interlink and then put in a perfect offload at pace to Will who broke the Salisbury defensive line and scored a cracking try under the sticks. Alex added the extra’s making it 14-17 to Chippenham and finally they got back ahead. They then used great game management to retain the ball and not cough it up. This they did and managed to run down the final nervy minutes until the Referee blew for full time. It was mighty tight but Chippenham had won.
Many thanks to all the Salisbury players and coaches who showed huge determination and skill throughout the match and we wish you well for the remainder of the season. We look forward to meeting up again as Colts.
Chippenham were pretty pleased to pull this one back and can be relieved in winning when playing well below standard. Sometimes this happens but if you can get a win, so be it. Let’s hope that’s now out the system because next Sunday when it’s the Bristol Combination Cup Final and then the week after it’s the Dorset and Wilts Cup Final against Dorchester.
It’s going to be a very busy end to the season.