Chinnor knew the enormity of the task when they drew Plymouth Albion away for their first game in National League 1. Albion have only lost once at home in each of the past two seasons, have an illustrious history and, in Brickfields, one of the most impressive stadiums in the league
Benefiting for a team run on The Hoe in the morning the Villagers came out the blocks with a series of powerful scrums- winning two against the head and a penalty on the third to lay down a marker. Caolan Ryan kicked his first penalty of the afternoon on just 3 mins following a sustained foray into the Albion half- a feat he repeated on 10 mins to give Chinnor a 0-6 lead. Twice try saving tackles from Matt Shepherd denied Chinnor. Then Plymouth found some possession and cut the lead through a penalty via Shepherds boot on 20 mins.
Still Chinnor poured forward but lacked a little of the fluidity of preseason. Despite out muscling Plymouth at their own game the visitors had to settle for another Ryan penalty to stretch their lead to 3-9. Chinnor’s monstrous defence held firm in the face of Albion’s direct approach but an uncharacteristic penalty on 33 mins allowed Plymouth go into the break 6-9
Chinnor continue in similar vein after the break and Tom Burns silenced the knowledgeable home support with a 35m run that broke three Plymouth attempts to fell the impressive No 8 who score Chinnor’s first try at this level- converted by the immaculate boot of Ryan. As expected, Albion then drew on their experience and through their own talisman, No 8 Stupple, had their best period of the game battering away at the Chinnor line. Finally on 57 mins the dam was breached but the conversion was wide leaving the score 11- 16 with 20 mins to go. After a period of tit for tat exchanges Caolan Ryan slotted a crucial penalty to give Chinnor 11-19 lead with 9 mins left.
The Chinnor lineout had been in superb form all afternoon but it was a steal from a Plymouth lineout 5m out by Joe Dancer on 78 mins that clinched victory for the villagers and as Plymouth mounted one final push Chinnor countered. Firstly by Rob Bell and then, in his accustomed manner, Kieran Goss sliced through the Albion defence and popped the ball to Craig Holland who put the icing on the cake with a try under the posts – convert by Ryan.
Final score Plymouth Albion 11 Chinnor 26
This was a game that Chinnor’s forwards dominated and the quality of play thrilled and rewarded the dedicated traveling supporters with a deserved win
Chinnor captain Danny Barnes spoke to The Rugby Paper after the game “ I’m absolutely delighted with the win in our first ever game at this level. We worked hard on our shape and structure in preseason and out there we competed for 80 minutes. We were the unknown element today, but after this performance others will know more about us.”
We face the next challenge at home this Saturday against Ampthill and we can be certain that they will not be complacent.
Updated 17:15 - 16 Sep 2018 by Greg Heath