Aylesbury edge a close-run game, 24-22.
A spirited, committed performance across the squad.
Our first meeting with Chinnor for several years, and one the boys approached with some trepidation. Chinnor kindly agreed to play the game in quarters, to allow us to regularly ring the changes and ensure everyone got plenty of time on the pitch. The first 15 minutes were evenly matched; Chinnor’s powerful midfield ball-carrying and disciplined rucking were balanced by Ays’ desire to play wide and fierce commitment to the breakdown. Aylesbury were eventually undone by a strong run from the Chinnor centre, who shrugged off a couple of tacklers to break free for an unconverted try. Never letting their heads drop, Ays regrouped, and through intelligent kicking from half-backs Ollie and Archie began to gain both some territory and a degree of control. From a line out, quick phase-play and even quicker hands saw Luke over in the corner for our first try, also unconverted.
Ays’ commitment at the tackle and ruck was as good as seen this season, but a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Chinnor’s big #7 to exploit some poor tackling to power through for their second: 5-12 at halftime, but with a positive mood in the Ays squad.
The team was reshuffled once again, and with some of our less experienced players to the fore, Ays began the half with a huge defensive shift but couldn’t stop Chinnor from going over in the corner to go 17-5 up.
The talk from behind the posts during the conversion attempt was that ‘we can still do this’, and so they did, applying immense pressure to the Chinnor line. Max crossed the line for a disallowed try - dropped ball - but the advantage was still ours, and the pack, led by Sam, forced the ball over for a try which remained unconverted.
Ays picked up where they left off and Damion, finding himself with ball in hand in a congested midfield, headed straight for the posts, capping a superb performance with a great solo try, Archie shaking off memories of his previous attempt at Harpenden to coolly convert and draw the scores level. Chinnor, perhaps unwisely, chose to kick the restart directly to Kit, who needed little invitation to test them on the outside, going under the posts for a try again converted by Archie, which put Aylesbury into the lead, 24-17
The final ten minutes were as full-blooded as junior rugby gets, and Chinnor showed their class and cool heads to work the ball over wide right, but were unable to convert, leaving the final score at 24-22 to Aylesbury.
A win, then, albeit against opponents shorn of a number of their stronger players by county duties, but a good win nonetheless and one from which our boys should take great heart and confidence. It was good to see Cam back and playing well after such a long injury lay-off, to see Jenson present and supporting from the side-line once again, and I would echo the Chinnor linesman who complimented the boys’ brand of skilful, attacking rugby. A true squad performance and one in which the forwards as a whole and back row, in particular, more than matched a bigger and more experienced Chinnor pack.
Man of the Match: Damion - a barnstorming performance and superb solo try.
Our thanks to Chinnor for the fixture, and particularly their ref for stepping in at late notice to officiate.