By Simon Arnett

19 January 2020

We hadn’t played since early December, so we needed a run out to blow away the remnants of the mince pies and turkey. We had prepared to face Effingham & Leatherhead in the Surrey Waterfall Birch Cup Final, but after some convoluted shenanigans, outside of our control, it had to be postponed.

Our trusty fixture secretary, Martin Parkinson, was straight on the blower seeking alternative opposition.  Out popped Chobham, local rivals of some renown and a team we hadn’t faced since the tight, ill-tempered finals a couple of years ago.

Apart from blowing the cobwebs away, there was the serious aim of preparing for next week’s National Cup match and also giving a good run out to all squad members.

So we departed to the far corner of the Big Field on a bright day, and ideal conditions for rugby. A couple of late injuries meant we had to shuffle the pack a little, but we took to the field for a 4 x 20 minute format match with optimism.

The first period was fairly attritional with few highlights as the sides arm-wrestled for territory. Some time was taken as Ben Hayes gave his opposite number a lesson in how to scrummage, and the period ended with a piece of individual brilliance as Chris Preen chipped ahead and collected the bouncing ball to score. No conversion was added, and the first quarter ended 5-0.

We made wholesale changes for the second period and enjoyed better possession in Chobham’s half. With a powerful surge, George Sills bore down on the Chobham line only to be stopped just short. He sadly sustained a bad injury to his ankle and play was held up for a while he was attended to (we wish you a speedy recovery George!).

When play resumed, we scored almost immediately as Paddy TennEnt drifted through the gap created by Finlay Scott’s dummy run. We kept the pressure up with a number of thrusts from Raich Hudson and Tommy Radford causing chaos in the Chobham defence and Archie Coldicott was on hand to finish off from close range. Hector Calder added the extras with the period ending 17-0.

The third period started in scrappy fashion, and the errors continued, allowing Chobham to break their duck with a drive over. There was little to celebrate from an attacking perspective, but the tackles were flying in with venom, with Raich, Ben Parkinson and Manny Chaffe defending stoutly. The lineout was working well though with both Radford and Tom Whittenbury throwing accurately to Jed Brockes who was being launched into the stratosphere under George Sherwin’s leadership. However, a lucky break and a missed tackle allowed Chobham a second try which was converted and the third period ended 17-12.

Numerous changes were again made for the final period. In the first few minutes we tried to force the play too much but the hard work put in earlier started to bear fruit as the pressure we were exerting forced errors. A dropped ball on the half way line was neatly gathered by Finlay Scott who sprinted clear to score, with Finn Rennles converting – 24-12. Coldicott was next to pounce on a knock on to scurry clear for his second – 29-12. Soon, it was Alfie Waincoat showing Chobham a clear pair of heals bursting from our 22, to feed Preen who fended off several desperate defenders to score in the corner – 34-12. Our final score came from a deft crossfield kick from Jack Parkinson that was expertly caught by Rennles, who finished off under the posts and converted. 41-12.

Chobham weren’t finished and scored a late consolation and the match finished 41-17.

This was a great result against tough opposition, and good preparation for the cup match next week with everyone in the squad getting good game time.

Tries: Preen 2, Tennent, Coldicott 2, Scott, Rennles

Cons: Calder, Rennles 2

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