Chippenham U16’s v Dorchester U16’s – D&W Cup Final - 29 April 2018
Another determined effort from the Chippenham lads came up short in losing the D&W Cup Final against Dorchester by 7-34.
After what has been a very busy end of season, it would have been great to have been crowned Bristol Combination Champions, Dorset & Wiltshire Champions, Wiltshire Champions and U16 Champions of Italy. But in the end, this great bunch of lads would have to just settle for the last 2… Don’t think there are many sides that could have reached the game to this level and picked up all the silverware, so a massive credit is due to all the Chippenham squad on reaching these levels.
The Chippenham crew gathered once more at stupid o'clock for the lengthy coach trip to North Dorset RFC for the Final of the D&W Cup which ended up in the middle of the Dorset countryside and massive thanks to them in hosting the match. Did it have an impact upon the result? No but it would have been nice to not have to travel through 3 counties to get there and have to put up with a lengthy trip back home with a bit of beer partaken and no loo on the coach.. regardless, the singing from the upper deck signalled the great team spirit this group of lads have.
Anyway, once the expert driver got us to North Dorset, the lads undertook a thorough warm-up and were totally ready for the challenge ahead. It was going to be a challenge when you consider Dorchester have 2 lads that were selected for England U17’s last month, have a strong presence in the Bath Academy and have not been beaten for nearly 2 seasons. With this pedigree, it was a shame that they felt the need to try some pre-match tactics to psych an advantage but frankly, it didn’t work. Anyway, the Chippenham lads readied themselves and were determined not to take a backward step. It was great to see so many supporters making the long trip down and just showed the great spirit within this age group. Thank you all. The match was played on the 2nd team pitch and the weather took a turn for the worst with a very chill wind blowing strongly down the sloping pitch. Chippenham lost the toss and ended up kicking off into the wind and playing up the slope. Many thanks to the excellent team of three officials from the Dorset & Wilts Referee’s Society who officiated the game and did so expertly. After all the preambles and a damn good bacon roll for this reporter, it was on with the final.
With Chippenham playing into the gale, the early stages saw them control the ball well and mount good pressure on the determined Dorchester pack. They soon coughed up a couple of penalties which gave Alex an opportunity to open the account with a kick at the posts. Sadly the wind took the ball away and it was Dorchester who mounted the next attack which resulted in a try out wide after 8 minutes. The extras were missed so 0-5. Chippenham were not affected and the pack was dominate in both scrum and lineout but soon the lads got pinned back in their own 22 with some good kicking and swift chasers. Dorchester scored another from an attack using their sizable forwards and scored another try which wasn’t converted 0-10 but this didn’t affect the resolute Chippenham team. When they did have chance to attack, the forwards showed massive strength with Tim, Archie, Ben W, Ben B, Oscar, Ben S, Hugo and Jake showing heart in the heat of the battle with Isaac bossing them around the pitch but a couple of mistakes out wide were causing problems and soon Dorchester scored another try to take it to 0-15. Chippenham regrouped and mounted some excellent attacks and the pressure was telling with Dorchester conceding a number of penalties and earning a few words from the excellent Referee. Chippenham opted to attack using the 5 meter lineout and a clean take from Oscar allowed a number of assaults on the line but even though they hammered away, no try was forthcoming even though Archie was held up and Ben W got very close. Sadly, no scores were added before the Referee blew for half time. The feelings on the sideline was that the wind and slope were worth at least 20 points so even though it had not been a great half, heads had not dropped and the squad was positive but they knew that the next score was going to be key.
The second half started fortuitously when Dorchester misjudged the strong wind and kicked into touch. From the resulting Chippenham scrum, the lads broke well and Dorchester capitalised on an error and it was they who skilfully worked the ball up the pitch and scored the next try which wasn’t converted 0-20. Chippenham dug in and attempted a number of attacks using the wind sensibly and had Dorchester pinned on their line for a good 5 minutes, mounting attack after attack with George pinging the ball at pace. However, the defence was solid and Dorchester did well at the breakdown, unfortunately winning the ball back and the fly half showed his skill to work up the pitch and a smart pass allowed yet another Dorchester try which was converted 0-27. The Chippenham lads never stopped working for each there and a lovely attack nearly saw Josh create space out wide for a try but he was halted by a last ditched tackle. Every one of the squad contributed throughout the match with Joel, Tom P, Elliot, Charlie and Archie putting in some massive tackles with Tim leading by example and putting in a man of the match performance. The pressure built again and the Chippenham attacks resulted in a couple of high tackles with a Dorchester player getting shown a card and taking a break on the sideline. Using the wind smartly, Chippenham played some good rugby and from an attacking lineout, they launched a couple of powerful drives with the pack smashing away and resulted in Tim scoring a well-deserved try that Dobbie converted making it 7-27. Was there a huge comeback on the cards? Even though the Chippenham lads wanted it, it was Dorchester who had the final word when their skilful backs counter-attacked and scored a good try that was converted leaving the game at 7-34. The final 5 minutes saw no further scores and when the Referee blew for full-time, it was Dorchester who were rightly celebrating. Congratulations to them on an impressive performance.
Chippenham collected their Runners-Up medals and showed plenty of grace and respect to Dorchester when they were presented with theirs. The losing did hurt but this is a classy bunch of lads and they play with a smile and enjoy rugby with their mates. Even though this was the last match as U16’s and Juniors, it certainly isn’t the end of the road and all of the squad are looking forward to meeting up again to celebrate the highs and the couple of lows from the season. Then it’s on to next season, turning out for the Development Squad and hitting it hard once again!! As they say round Chippenham, if the first way don’t work, hit it harder the next time.
Well done to all the Players and excellent Coaches who have put in so much over many years. It’s truly impressive when you look at today's U16's squad, 14 players actually started the journey as Chippenham Under 7’s and still enjoy their rugby. That is some achievement.
Finally, a little mention to all the brilliant parents who have contributed in a massive way to the success of this age group. It’s been a real pleasure to share the sideline’s with you and enjoy some fantastic times over many years. We have made some brilliant memories and look forward to continuing this as our lads enjoy their rugby at Chippenham. Thank you.