CS wins the league and Direct Promotion with one week to spare
by Adrian Houstoun
The home side had already done enough to avoid the drop, and CS were looking for at least a point to secure the title and direct promotion, without the need for play offs which they had experienced in 2009/2010. Understandably therefore this was a tense affair. On a bright and sunny day Thurrock kicked off and open side flanker Robbie Bowell caught the ball cleanly and drove comfortably over the gain line and into the home side’s half. All too soon a penalty was won by CS, which gave them an ideal chance to kick to the corner, drive the line out over for an early score and thereby ease their not inconsiderable nerves, and set a platform for a comfortable afternoon. The plan was fine but the execution less so and Thurrock were able to clear their line. However on 10 minutes CS were awarded another penalty, although this one in the opposition half. Scrum half Adam Nixon took a quick tap and via an overhead pass got the CS backs heading towards the Thurrock line, eventually inside centre Ryan Martin scored in the right corner. Full back James Houstoun was unable to convert 0 – 5. Towards the end of the first quarter, following a period of pressure by the CS forwards Number 8 Matt Gibson made an excellent break, and it looked like he had made a scoring pass to left wing Pumulo Banda who unfortunately lost the ball to the ground. On 30 minutes CS pressure resulted in a penalty in front of the posts. CS opted for the kick at goal, but Houstoun’s kick was just wide. There was still time in the first half to exert pressure and via a penalty CS had an opportunity through another 5 metre line out. Rather than a score it resulted in a 5 metre scrum to CS in the middle of the pitch. Everyone including the Thurrock defence expected an attempted drive over, but the ball quickly ended up in the hands of fly half Liam Cleary who danced through the defence and touched down under the posts, (see photo) with Houstoun converting 0 – 12. The last play of the half enabled Houstoun to make amends y making a break down the right wing and making a beautifully timed pass to right wing Chris East who duly crossed the line. Houstoun was injured in the move and replaced by Zac Stamp. Cleary therefore converted the try. 0 – 17 was therefore the half time score.
Thurrock received an early second half penalty which enabled them to take play into CS territory. They also made a break and both the ball carrier and supporter evaded rather flimsy CS tackle attempts. With Chris East also having scored his second for CS, despite having a determined tackle to break, followed by an excellent score by Robbie Boswell who solely drove over from a line out the score was 14 - 27. With the clock running down replacement Zach Stamp broke down the left wing and evaded all tackle attempts for a very creditable length of the pitch score. Pumulo Banda failed with the conversion. There was still enough time left for Thurrock to score another consolation try which was not converted. 19 – 32. CS have provided some amazing and entertaining rugby this season, but understandably this was not an occasion for such a feast, but CS, for the 18th time this season therefore took the full 5 points by scoring 4 or more tries, and have deservedly secured promotion. The clubhouse was rather quiet after the match which perhaps reflects the huge effort that the players have put in especially in recent weeks and the long and arduous campaign that it has been.
Head coach Mark Jackson said. “I am very proud of the squad today, as I have been all seson, keeping their composure and discipline in a very physical encounter. We scored some excellent tries and it was nice to wrap up the title a week early. Next week will hopefully will be a very special day at Dukes Meadows and we can see out the campaign in style.”
On Saturday 21st April 2018 CS have their last league fixture of the season at home to Chobham