Match Report from Murray Palmer
The day was bright and crisp and the pitch was awful. The ref even asked the coaches if they were happy to play and all decided to give it a go. The Pumas decided to play downhill first half and they had several guys returning from injury and travel.
The Pumas applied the early pressure frustrating the homeside with Robbie Connell kicking a pen on 10 mins. But the Pumas were unable to convert the pressure into any further points and the territorial advantage at the bottom of the hill. However at the half way point in the first half full back Gus Flack scored as the Chineham defence ran out of cover.
As the ground and conditions deteriorated further then spaces started to open up for both sides as players found it hard to get a grip on the slippy surface. Robbie Connell added another penalty before the Pumas made their first mistake and Lock Kent Streek got the first of many Yellow Cards given for a high tackle on a Chineham player who broke through the line. But Chineham made the extra man count as they put pressure on the Puma try line. From a resulting scrum they scored their first try with 35 mins played. HT 5-11
No sooner had the Pumas got back to full strength than Outside Center Robbie Connell got the second Yellow Card of the day for a drop tackle. With bad conditions he appeared slip in the tackle and could not control his bodyweight. That was the powder keg moment for an unseemly brawl. Chineham capitalised on the extra man by scoring their second unconverted try.
Despite the conditions the Puma pack scrummage well holding the large Chineham all day. This platform gave the Pumas much needed territory and altitude up the hill by a string of much deserved and needless penalties (blatant offsides and chopsing off). Nick Destefano in at fly-half kicked well from hand to make certain of good field position. Chineham's lack of discipline cost them this point.
But with 68 mins played a missed tackle saw the Chineham winger break away and looked certain to score as he gazelled it down the hill into the bottom right corner. Heroic tackling by flanker Tom Palmer who was tracking back bundled him into touch to save the day.
With 70 mins played the Pumas were just about holding on in a 1 point game which saw more frustration with Nick Destefano Yellow Carded as well as one of the Chineham players. At 75 mins mark the homeside were reduced to 13 as another Chineham player was sent to the sin bin. This was a decision that cost them the game as the Pumas applied a lot of pressure and were camped at the top of the hill for much of last 10 minutes. Using the extra man advantage the forwards drove for the line where finisher John Pearson scored a try. Robbie Connell converted and here the score remained at 10-18 when the final whistle was blown.
Tough conditions certainly contributed to a feisty game where the Yellow Cards given played a part in the match. Winning is winning and the Pumas walked away slightly fortunate in this roulette of a match but take this win into their next crucial home game.