Chinnor U16s start season with strong win
By Alex Bond
A good friendly match played against Reading RFC U16s
With both clubs ready for an early fixture, the sun trying to break through and good touchline support, the scene was set for the players to blow the cobwebs away and get back to tackling, rucking, passing, kicking and scoring tries.
The Chinnor squad were out in strength with only four players unavailable, so the decision was made to play four quarters so two complete front rows could be swapped in and out, along with the backs and the other forwards. Three scrum halves were rotated round as were three fly halves and three full-backs.
Quarter 1 started with Chinnor scoring early with Favors showing he has not lost any of his pace on the wing. Atkins, Bedwell and Gilbert were solid in the front row, with Maisey and Blackwell in the engine room. Moody and Davies tackled well and Reading struggled to gain much possession of the ball. The second try came following a good break that was defended some 15m from the line. At this point the forwards took turns to pick and go with Blackwell seizing the opportunity to get over the line. Reading then started to make some ground before Burnett at No8 collected a loose ball on the half way line and ran disposing of or stepping three opposition players to score. Smith was instrumental at scrum half and had his kicking boots on to convert all three attempts. Hick played well distributing good ball to Bond, Kemp and Bridges. Stainton also played well coming up into the line in attack. Despite this, the backs did not break through Reading defence for a repeat of the fist try. The quarter ended 21-0.
Quarter 2 was more evenly matched encounter with most of both teams changed over. The new legs of the forwards with Bailey, Mulholland and Davies in the back row, Golding and Blackwell in the second row and Nixon, Riley and Morris in the front row gave Chinnor the hope that they would be able to out-muscle Reading, but that was not to be. Reading's defence was sound and they contested for the ball effectively stealing it at times and were quick to counterattack. Metcalf at scrum half dealt with the sometimes changing situation well and along with Evans at fly-half got the ball out to the formidable back line of Kemp, Cook, Taylor and Butler. Cullen at full back read the game well coming into the line at times and also tackling well when Reading looked threatening. The tempo was fast, but it did not come together for the home side until the ball was spun out to Butler for a great run down the far side of the pitch for the only try of the quarter. Conversion by Taylor.
Quarter 3 saw a swap around of half the forwards from the first quarter and half from the second. Just as one of the Reading players looked like he had broken Chinnor's line, Moody showed his ability to tackle and thwarted the Reading attack. Golding held the scrum together, despite Reading having the heavier pack. The forwards worked hard and made good ground for Metcalf to go over for try #1. The combination of Metcalf at No9 and Bond at No10 worked and the ball was being moved wide successfully. The first fruit of this was when Taylor darted between two opposition players and then sprinted 40 yards to score. The second occasion was when Butler ran through two tackles and evaded Reading's full back - all at blistering pace. Taylor also had his kicking boots on today and converted all three of his attempts. The quarter ended 21-0.
Quarter 4 was back to being a closer affair. Atkins, Riley, Bailey and Burnett came back on and Bridges played at scrum half, passing well. Reading pressed well and were looking for a score. At times it looked like they might breach Chinnor's defence but all the players found themselves working hard, helping each other to try and plug any gaps. With ball in hand, Chinnor looked useful but were not being given an easy ride. After quite some effort, Smith, playing at outside centre, scored in the corner for the only try of the quarter. He duly converted it too.
The score probably flatters Chinnor a little and there are things to work on. The contested line out went well, but there is more to do in this area. Reading were strong in the scrum and were very effective in the ruck - they just couldn't convert this into points. That said, the Chinnor players looked up for the challenge and all played well - to a man.
What a great team effort to start the U16s season!