Bittersweet victory for Chinnor in pulsating match
Chinnor 27 Bishop's Stortford 25
Photography by Aaron Bayliss (@GetPhotography1)
Chinnor welcomed Bishop's Stortford to Kingsey Road knowing that defeat to the league leaders would end their own title chances and possibly a place in the play off for promotion to National 1.
The visitors started well and early pressure led to a penalty in midfield kicked by scrum half Banks for a 3-0 lead.
Straight from the restart, winger Luke Hibberd plucked the kick off out of the air and went in unopposed. Jonny Bentley converted for 7-3.
It was end to end stuff already and Stortford capitalised on loose play from the restart to pressurise the Chinnor defence into giving away a second kickable penalty. Banks was successful to make it 7-6 after 9 minutes.
A period of sustained Chinnor pressure in the middle of the half was well defended by Bishop's Stortford until on the 27 minute mark flanker Ben Manning cut through and went over near the posts. The conversion by Bentley made it 14-6.
The visitors stormed straight back after Chinnor had lost a third line out and winger Rea took a hanging kick to stretch over the line near the corner. Banks converted to make it 14-13 after 32 minutes.
Just before half time Chinnor captain Danny Barnes had to leave the field for suspected concussion with Junior Fatialofa coming on as replacement. The sides went in at the break 14-13.
The second period started with plenty of turnovers and Stortford looking to use the wind at their backs. A penalty on 50 minutes to Stortford was kicked to the corner and from the lineout the forwards rumbled over to score and take the lead 18-14. Banks missed the conversion.
Chinnor came straight back and from a lineout on the Stortford 22, scrum half Greg Goodfellow broke and fed Bentley to go over for a third try. Bentley converted to make it 21-18 on 56 minutes.
There was no let up as Stortford looked to regain the initiative and replacement Nic Clancy scythed through the Chinnor defence to score a superb individual effort. Banks converted to make it 25-21 on 60 minutes.
Bentley kicked a penalty to narrow the deficit to 24-25 on 64 minutes before a clean break in midfield by Ben Pienaar almost put the hosts in at the corner before winger Hibberd was bundled into touch.
With 10 minutes remaining a break by Goodfellow into the Stortford 22 gave Bentley a second penalty opportunity which he gratefully took for Chinnor to retake the lead 27-25.
From the restart Chinnor infringed but Banks missed the penalty which would put them back ahead. A second misdemeanour by the hosts from a scrum near halfway gave the scrum half a chance to redeem himself but again his effort went wide.
Chinnor attacked as the clock ran down to try and get a precious bonus point but it wasn't to be and this fierce and close fought contest ended 27-25. It was the first time the hosts had ever beaten Bishop's Stortford and the game was a tremendous advert for tier 4 rugby.
Bishop's Stortford coach Andy Long said " We are disappointed, it was a fierce match on a knife edge. We put ourselves in a good position to win. We will move on from this with 3 games left"
Chinnor DoR Matt Williams was delighted with the victory but frustrated at letting the bonus point slip by: "The heart and desire the boys showed today makes last week's result against Clifton an even bigger pill to swallow. We now have given ourselves a real chance to fight to the end of the season with Old Elthamians".
Elsewhere OE's bonus point win over Barnes moves them into second place by virtue of games won. In all likelihood, Chinnor will now need to take maximum points from the 3 remaining matches to have any chance of being in the play off.
Kieran Goss, Luke Hibberd, Danny Barnes (c), Bevon Armitage, Henry Lamont, Jonny Bentley, Greg Goodfellow, Tom Price, Mark Darlington, Joe Hutchinson, Nathan Hannay, CJ Osazuwa, Richard Thorpe, Ben Manning, Tom Burns
Interchanges: Jay Tyack, Koree Britton, Ben Pienaar, Basil Strang, Junior Fatialofa
Will Simmonds, Nick Hankin, Sam Winter (c), Johnny Neville, Jimmy Rea, Pier Dotta, Tom Banks, Will Roberts, Declan Caulfield, Sean Edwards, Jon George, Matt Tomlinson, James Apperley, Dan Elsom, Steve Ball
Interchanges: Seb Brownhill, Tom McCrone, Rory Banks, Nic Clancy, Sam Coleman
Tries (time): Hibberd 5, Manning 29 Bentley 55
Conversions (time): Bentley 6, 30, 56
Penalty Goals (time): Bentley 63, 73
Tries (time): Rea 31 Caulfield 51, Clancy 60
Conversions (time): Banks 32, 61
Penalty Goals (time): Banks 4, 9
Referee: Mr Gareth Holsgrove
Half time score: 14-13
Full time score: 27-25
Star man: Jonny Bentley - Chinnor