This past weekend we hosted Chesham in what was our 15th game in 7 seasons and despite our record being poor against our incessant rivals, we knew our chances were good as we were playing at home on our FORWARD ORIENTED pitch and that our team was 80% made up by forwards. We were also joined by a good turnout of supporters which has been steadily growing throughout the season, and seems to encourage a better degree of play from us.
Having played each other so often the first 20 minutes of the game had both teams playing each other to a stalemate. In defence our 3/4 ‘s sat deep in anticipation of the kicks over the top and the defensive line pressed flat leaving no gaps for the Chesham runners to slip through, our offense was likewise met with steely determination that meant a majority of rugby was played in the middle of the pitch. We finally gained a foothold in the Chesham half and knowing every point counts Shane took the opportunity to knock over a penalty to give us the advantage. Constant bombardment from the forwards seemingly tired the Chesham defence as not long afterwards, having worked a few phases, Scott our acting 12 for the day fended off two challenges to crash over and score that brought us into a ten-point lead. But Chesham weren’t just ready to concede the half, they returned the ball with vigour and met an near impenetrable wall, unfortunately in attempts to prevent them crossing the gain line the referee adjudged on two occasions we’d been offside helping Chesham gain ground through the boot, this allowed them to gain enough territory that they got insight of the posts, determining it was better to go into halftime with something their young fly-half knocked over a penalty to leave them within a converted score of us. HT 10-3
The restart brought something that has now become an unwelcome part of our game known as the ‘Southgate 10 minutes’. We lacked sense about our game as Chesham ran their opportunities with their fullback breaking through the unorganised defence scoring a converted try. This knocked us as the scores were now level and Chesham sensing this continued to onslaught our half. We laid everything on the line to defend the tryline as they switched play from left to right looking for a way through the Southgate defence, eventually working through the Southgate bodies to take the lead. In the heroic efforts of the defence we lost Alex and Eoghan to injury, a reshuffle in the backline had us line up with Sam at 9, Shane at 10 and Scott at 12 something that would be more familiar as a backrow rather than a backline. But we composed ourselves by slowing the play down and went through phases, we gained every bit of ground the hard way as we crashed our way up the field. It was now our turn to apply the pressure we assaulted the Chesham line for a good 10 minutes looking for nothing less than a try to bring the scores level. It finally came off a scrum in which Southgate got a nudge on Chesham, and with a retreating defence Sam picked up and crashed over to give the final five minutes an interesting twist. As far as I can recall this is how much of it played out, we were in the Chesham 22 with Chesham getting a put in at the scrum we were penalised as Sam had a coming together with the opposition 9, off the resulting penalty Chesham gained territory and set about their work. As they made their attempts on the Southgate line the defence was aggressive pushing back the Chesham offence, sensing the opportunity disappearing the Chesham 10 sat back and called for the ball, striking the ball through the uprights he granted Chesham the win with the final kick of the game.
Losing in such a manner is heart-breaking, but we can take solace in how we played the defence (barring the ‘Southgate 10 minutes’) was excellent the likes that had not been seen during the first half of the season and how we applied ourselves in attack. MOTM for us was our Strawberry Blonde centre Scott Stoba with the Chesham winger receiving kudos as their MOTM and the D**k of the day went to Sam Hart and the Chesham 10 for scoring the drop goal.
We look forward to our next game against Chesham whenever that may be, and are off to play Enfield Pulsars in a friendly weekend of the 11th February.
Team: Richard, Jack, Michael, Nick, Peter, Joel, Conal, Sam, Alex (Stav), Eoghan (Ben), Stefan, Scott, Gabriel, Brad and Shane
Scorers: Scott & Sam (1T) Shane (2C&1P)