This was a key opening league match with both teams knowing that this was their best chance of getting a win in the top division. It was by no means straightforward for the Chiefs. As the game grew closer, our chances of getting a win seemed to be diminishing. Already without Euan and Matt, we lost Rodrigo the night before and Christian that morning. Worse was to come when Dylan's knee broke down in the warm-up. Thus the regular 21- player squad was reduced to 16 by kick-off. Linton and Holden were drafted into the backs. The front row was beefed up with Ash at prop and Thomas at hooker. The game plan was to use our big pack to wear down the opposition and control possession. We needed to keep the ball away from Petersfield's dangerous back line.
As expected, Petersfield started well and the chiefs had to soak up a lot of pressure, but after 5 minutes Joseph set off on a pacy run from half-way and rounded the full-back like a winger to score in the corner. This gave the boys the confidence to throw the ball around with forwards linking with backs, resulting in a good run from Oscar deep into the opposition half. Holden also had a good run on the left wing and came close to scoring. From their lineout Thomas charged down their clearance kick and kept the pressure on the home team. Unfortunately we gave away a penalty and the ball was soon up the other end of the pitch. The Chiefs held out in defence until the ball went to their backs from a lineout in our 22 and they scored in the opposite corner. With neither try converted the half-time score was 5-5. It was proving a tight game, but the ball was given away too cheaply and too often to maintain the Chiefs' early momentum, allowing Petersfield to get back into the game. The Chiefs were a little rusty and found it hard to impose their game plan against determined opposition. Injuries were now becoming a problem with Thomas feeling his old knee injury and Lucas suffering with a sore neck. Adam came on for Lucas and went into the pack with Oscar dropping to full-back.
Petersfield started the second half in ominous fashion, quickly taking the lead with a second unconverted try to make the score 5-10. It was not looking good for Trojans, but soon after Linton popped up with a timely interception and ran in equalizing try under the posts. This was a critical moment in the game. Josh converted and the Chiefs re-took the lead at 12-10. Petersfield came back again, but the boys tackled well, typified by a crunching tackle from Fin W. which resulted in their player being taken off with a suspected broken rib. However, Petersfield were not finished and went in front by 13-12 from a penalty in front of the posts. With about 10 minutes to go, Thomas was substituted by Lucas who returned to full-back. Adam went to hooker. The game continued to be tight, but all of a sudden, when they needed it the most, the Chiefs finally found their game plan and launched an attack through the forwards with Ash leading the way. The ball was quickly re-cycled and fed to the backs, where Lucas made a penetrating run. He drew the last defender and put Oscar in for what proved to be the winning score. There were still 2 minutes to go, but the boys continued to defend well and saw out the match, winning 17-13.
It was a very tense match and either side could have won it. Ultimately, the Chiefs wanted it more and showed great spirit to finish the match so well. We know they can improve on that performance and they will need to be more competitive in this league, but under the circumstances this was a well earned victory. Man of the match was Linton, who not only helped out the backs but had an excellent game.