Shelford Battle The Elements In Bonus Point Victory

Shelford Battle The Elements In Bonus Point Victory

By Josh Barnes
5 April
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The Peacocks claim victory against Amersham & Chiltern on their march to league title.


The elation following THAT Peacock victory over Sudbury brought another challenge. Shelford needed to switch on against a tough Amersham and Chiltern side.

Two bonus point wins would guarantee the League title, but Shelford had to be at their very best under a 4-season blast of bizarre weather for this match.

Within a minute, Shelford had the first penalty of the game, following a high tackle on Ben Bates

All the early momentum was with Shelford.

Cracknell made good distance with an accurate kick giving the Peacocks a brilliant early attack platform, which they converted into a try.

TJ, with ball in hand, poked a wonderfully-weighted grubber through after some strong carries from the forwards.

Amersham and Chiltern's defender casually slid into the in-goal area, but an alert Biard sped through and pounced on the ball to touch down.

Cracknell, ever dependable, made no mistake with the extras, as Shelford raced to an early 7-0 lead.

Undoubtedly, this early concession woke the visitors up and they dominated the next exchanges.

Playing with a penalty advantage, Amersham and Chiltern were edging closer to the Shelford try-line, though a knock-on temporarily eased the pressure.

Shelford’s defence continued to hold strong, winning a penalty inside their own 22 at the breakdown.

The next 10 minutes were played predominantly in the Shelford half, with penalties see-sawing between the sides.

Despite Shelford’s strenuous defensive efforts, the balance eventually shifted. Just after 25 minutes, Amersham and Chiltern were rewarded with a try.

An initial rolling maul had been brought down illegally by the Peacocks, allowing a 2nd from the set-piece.

Sniffing their dominance at the line-out, Amersham and Chiltern used their same successful tactic, then bundled over despite Shelford’s best efforts.

The away side’s 10 was successful with the boot. Scores all square, 7-7.

The blue sky was suddenly covered by ominous dark cloud and a spectacular rainbow. The wind picked up, still bitterly cold.

On the pitch, it was still helping the away side to maintain territorial dominance.

Following a straightforward penalty kick, they took the lead for the first time, 10-7.

With typical strong defence, Shelford were able to hold the away side out, despite 20 minutes of A&C dominance.

Only five 1st half minutes remained on the clock when The Peacocks began to show why they are top of the League.

Miles Anderson won a fantastic penalty at the breakdown, just as snow began to fall. No wonder Amersham and Chiltern picked him as their Man of the Match!

Well into the visitors' 22, Shelford won a penalty and opted for a scrum, backing their forwards to provide the perfect attack.

At the base of the scrum, Ben Bates held the ball, with Shelford pushing the Amersham and Chiltern pack backwards, making space for the backs to run.

With the try-line line in sight, Bates elected to carry and, despite huge efforts by four defenders, he smashed through to score.

The conversion was missed but, going in at half-time, Shelford had snatched the lead, 12-10.

During the break, the snow became hail, the hail became icy rain and conditions made play extremely difficult for both sides.

An early penalty for the away side was again dispatched by their impressive fly-half and the lead swung back to Amersham and Chiltern, 13-12.

Unsurprisingly, both sides were spilling the ball in the appalling conditions.

Shelford broke the pattern with a string of penalties and one great Cracknell kick brought the Peacocks back, to lead 15-13.

The visitors were then reduced to 14 with a player sin-binned for late tackling the kicker. Shelford now used this man advantage to push deep into Amersham and Chiltern's half.

Despite missing a penalty at the posts, Shelford had possession inside the opponents' 22.

Strong running from the forwards and backs saw the Peacocks within metres of the try-line and Pete Clarke bundled over for a deserved score.

Cracknell put the missed penalty behind him and added the 2. Shelford now lead, 22-13.

Even the sun shone symbolically over The Davey Field now, smiling down on a Shelford team well on top in the contest.

The Peacock pack continued to dominate the set-piece and won a penalty in the opposition 22 from the opponents' scrum.

With their superiority showing up front, Shelford opted to scrummage again.

As in the first half, Shelford held the ball, until Charlie Baker was ready to break, using his strength to bundle over and secure vital bonus points for the Peacocks.

Cracknell inevitably kicked the conversion, extending the lead to 29-13.

Prop Oli Emsley had come off the bench to great effect in both attack and defence, but was forced off with injury.

With the result in no doubt, A&C pushed to finish in style - and did so. A penalty was kicked to the corner and following a strong drive, the referee saw fit to award a penalty try, but brandished no card.

Shelford closed the game out in the ascendancy and very nearly added to their points tally following late penalties.

The massively staunch and loyal crowd, who had also borne all the foul weather, now shared the sun coming out on Shelford's fine result, which leaves them one game away from the League title.

Shelford:

Gillick, Chiwanga (C), Biard, Cracknell, Tang, James, Baker; Anderson (VC), Huppatz, Barber, Fitch, Buchanan, Clark, Dunnett, Bates.

Replacements: Emsley, Rogerson, Tyrell.

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