Chippenham hosted the second game of the tour on a bright, cold and blustery day in the heart of Wiltshire. As the squad disembarked from the coach it was difficult to find any huge amount of enthusiasm amongst them. The general odour emanating from the changing room could not be blamed on any one individual as 25 boys with wind, in an enclosed space was not a healthy place to be. Clearly the fine dining at PGL in Liddington was having some effect on the players, and was replicated amongst a few of the parents!
As the boys warmed up there was fear in Gavin and Darren’s eyes. Hand eye co-ordination seemed to have been left behind as did the ability to put one foot in front of the other. But after 10 minutes the boys began to look surprisingly slick and up for the challenge. It was to the squads credit that on the fourth day of the tour they were able to adjust from their slumber and prepare well for the challenge ahead
Upminster lost the toss and played in to a strong breeze in the first half. However this did not have any undue effect as it encouraged the opposition to kick ball, which played into the hands of our pacy backs. It didn’t take long for U’s to open the scoring when Panda stole ball at the front of a lineout and powered over from close range. The second try was not long in coming as Charles side stepped his way to the line for the first of his four excellent tries. He soon added his second in similar fashion and with two successful conversions from Jamie the score stood at 19-0 after 17 mins. This brought a change of tactic from the opposition who decided that there was little point in kicking and chose to keep the ball amongst their forwards. Upminsters forwards responded admirably with some ferocious defence and counter rucking which meant that Chippenham were really playing a game of damage limitation. However the hosts did score a well deserved try when following a period of sustained pressure they stole a lineout ball close to U’s line and reduced the defecit to 19-7. With half time approaching, and with the wind soon to be behind U’s backs, Upminster added a further converted try on the whistle when Jamie sprinted clear to score under the posts. HT 26-7.
The second half was much more of a competitive battle up front, but with Charles scoring straight from the kick off the game was over as a contest. Chippenham continued to battle hard and really tested Upminster’s resolve and defensive organisation. It was rewarding to see that the boys were really up for the challenge and some massive hits and aggressive rucking meant that Chippenham were never able to get back in to the game. Further tries came from Charles, who has clearly not be told by his father that any more than two tries in a game is likely to cost you money. Nathan added another, which would have been coverted by Tommo had the wind not changed direction at the last minute, the grass not being suitable for his kicking style and he had not been put off by cat calls and hoots of derision from his own players. Jimmi rounded off the scoring as a period of numerous conceded penalties and indiscipline by Upminster ended with a break from our own 22 and another score under the posts. This brought the score to 50-7 and a slightly early, but well earned, end to the game.
Again the touring party adjourned to the clubhouse for some well earned refreshments, a chat with the opposition and some end of tour fines and games before the trip home. Having seen the boys dominate proceedings in the bar at Gloucester Rugby Club the day before it was no surprise that they maintained their good spirits, encouraged somewhat by tour Judge, Andy.
Jack Wood performed admirably in the face of a severe “Spoons Challenge” but was ultimately unable to cope with the skill of Gags or the power of Adam.
On a closing note I would personally, but on behalf of everyone, like to pass on my sincere thanks to both Tony and Gavin for their efforts in making the tour a success. It is a huge task ensuring that a group of 25, 15 yr old boys are entertained and their efforts should not go without note. Also credit to the squad as a whole who equipped themselves well on the playing field and were fine ambassadors for Upminster Rugby Club.
Team. 1.Chris 2.Jack 3.Panda 4.Owen 5.Cam 6.Nathan 7.Charles 8.Blaine 9.Adam 10.Jamie 11.JJ 12.Tommo 13.Harvey 14.Ross O 15.Jimmi
Reps All used - Ben, Danny, Ross S, Gags, Woody, Adil, Ed
Scorers - Tries: Panda, Charles (4), Jamie, Nathan, Jimmi
Conversions: Jamie (4), Tommo