Chinnor’s heroic fight back falls just short.
By Matt Grapes
County cup final
Chinnor Under 14s came up agonisingly short in their attempt to be crowned county champions. The boys , as always gave their all and were a credit to the club, but just could not quite hit the heights of some of their previous displays this season. A few uncharacteristic handling errors and failure to win their set piece possession meant that it was difficult to build any momentum and display the usual expansive, running game.
Henley utilised their big pack to good advantage and played a structured game based on good scrums and driving lineouts. This was in direct contrast to Chinnor who looked to move the ball at every opportunity, even from behind their own line at times. Henley took the lead after 15 minutes where a simple move saw their dangerous 13 outsprint the cover to score in the corner. More pressure soon followed and Henley increased their lead when the ball shot out of a Chinnor scrum straight into the hands of the opposition scrum half, who scampered over, 0-12.
Conceding these points seemed to stir the boys into action and they showed off their superb battling spirit. Again under pressure Chinnor attacked from a defensive 5 metre scrum and moved the ball from behind their own line to the ever dangerous Freddie. He set off on one of his trademark surges, beating several defenders and rampaging into the opposition 22 but Chinnor failed to recycle the ball with a several man overlap begging. Charlie and Tom C then combined to create another dangerous attack but unfortunately Alfie, travelling at top speed, couldn’t just hold onto the difficult final pass with the line at his mercy. Half time soon followed but these attacks had given the boys increased hope.
Henley continued to dominate first phase possession but their plan of unleashing their very powerful ( and full bearded) 12 as a battering ram was washed up on the rocks of Morgan’s magnificent defence. This again lifted the boys and after putting together a sustained, multi phased attack Tom C. crashed over in the corner. 5-12.
It was now Chinnor’s turn to get on top and as the game entered the final quarter the boy’s superior fitness and willingness to play looked to be paying dividends. Chinnor cleared their lines when Will C unleashed a superb touch finder under pressure to take the game to the half way. From the ensuing lineout Morgan pressurised the Henley half backs and regained the ball. He beat several defenders and released Tom C for what looked like a run in under the posts. However, the referee had spotted an indiscretion and blew for a Henley scrum.
Chinnor needed to take one of these opportunities to force the game into extra time, and they threw everything at Henley. From another attack from deep Freddie again surged down the touchline after being released by a wonder ‘out the back door off load’ from Wilf. Freddie chipped the fullback and was odds on to win the foot race but the ball drifted agonisingly into touch. Time was running short but again Chinnor attacked, this time with a barnstorming run from the irrepressible Tom C. His power, pace and fitness were all on show as he charged down field leaving defenders strewn in his wake. Tom passed to the supporting Jake who was just pulled down by the last defender. Unfortunately this was to be the last attack as the referee blew the final whistle.
The boys had given their all and showed their never say die attitude to storm back into contention. The whole squad should be rightly proud of their efforts in the Cup this season, where they all have contributed, and deservedly won the ‘Cup League’ in an unbeaten season. Thanks to all those who came along to watch, including Chinnor President John Ashfield, to give much welcomed support to the boys. A thanks also to the County who made sure all players who had represented this fantastic team this season received a much deserved medal. I am sure the boys will have learnt from the big occasion and will be even more determined to return next year and take the title.