Chinnnor see off Banbury U16s in thrilling league contest
By Alex Bond
Chinnor U16s acquit themselves well against a strong and determined Banbury team
With a cool wind blowing across and down the pitch, Banbury kicked off only for Chinnor to knock-on from the catch. Fortunately the hosts knocked on themselves as the two teams tried to settle down to playing some rugby in this eagerly expected league match. Both teams gave away a penalty, before Chinnor put together a good passage of play to spin the ball wide for Alex B to use his pace to score in the corner. 0-5.
Play was then back and forth with possession changing from some steals and some handling errors. Chinnor spun the ball wide again, but were thwarted and then it was all Banbury's way for a few minutes. Chinnor then won the ball back and looked dangerous only to spill the ball once it was out wide. Eddie C did well to stop the counter-attack. Then the visitors were back on the offensive, with Gus B lifted by Ben N and Ed M delivering good ball to Ben G at #8 who crashed through for 10m to score. 0-10.
The kick off then went out, but the line out was not straight, so Chinnor were defending from the resultant scrum. A big clearance kick from full back Ben S was chased down by Toby C and Eddie C to win the ball. Shortly afterwards, the visitors were then penalised holding on to the ball and had to win the ball back which they did by intercepting a Banbury pass. Ben N then carried well, making good ground and was supported by his front row partners Harry R and Shaun B.
The game them ebbed and flowed as both teams were trying to break through. For a while the hosts were camped in Chinnor's 22, making the most of the slope. A period of good defence then ensued, including winning and promptly losing the ball, before the pressure eventually resulted in a try for the persistent Banbury players. 5-10.
With half time beckoning, Chinnor did well to stave off another period of Banbury pressure with solid defence. Fly half Josh E then came off with an injury, having played a good first half. At the break Chinnor also swapped off Max B for Dan M at scrum half and brought on Rich B for Ed M.
Now with the wind and slope advantage, Chinnor kicked off and immediately put Banbury under pressure, securing a scrum from a maul that Banbury could not complete. A good steal then by Banbury and a kick through which was fumbled by Chinnor led to a score from an attacking 5m scrum. 10-10.
Chinnor looked a little unsettled giving away two penalties and, as a result, territory. Then they settled and secured a penalty which saw a perfect kick from Ben S. After three attempts at battering their way through the Banbury forwards, the ball was spun wide through the hands of Dylan T at outside centre for Eddie C to score in the corner. 10-15.
Rich B then went off with an injury, having carried well for the short period he was on the pitch. Spectators were then tantalised with three good runs - first from Toby C, then Ben G and finally Gus B, all of which had potential. Having lost the ball and then won it back, Chinnor spun the ball out and Ben G barreled over only for the ball to be held up. Not content with this, Dylan T got over the line only for the ball to be held up again. Third time round, the visitors were not leaving anything to chance and got the ball out to Ben G who had positioned himself out wide to score in the corner. 10-20.
Chinnor were now starting to assert themselves and next to show his skill was Ben S who, running out of space on the wing, kicked through for a contest 10m out from the Banbury try line. After winning the ball back the Chinnor forwards - with Archie D often leading the way - carried into contact inching closer for Max M to go over for try number five. 10-25.
The restart included Ed M being taken out in the air - fortunately without injury and using the penalty awarded, Chinnor took the fight to Banbury again. Chris B, at fly half, saw a gap 15 yards out and decided to back himself. With an opposition player hanging from his back and another trying to hold the ball up, he managed to dot the ball down under the posts. 10-32.
Chinnor then relaxed a little - enough for the hosts to seize an opportunity and their #10 squeezed through and past Chinnor players to score 15-32. With five minutes until the end of the match, legs were tiring and tempers were fraying. Chinnor were determined not to let Banbury score a fourth try - as much as the hosts were looking to score. An attempt at a kick through went long for Chinnor and Banbury tried to put Chinnor under pressure with a well judged kick from a penalty. The last play of the match was Chinnor successfully bundling the ball and its carrier into touch on their own 5m line. Final score 15-32.
Chinnor played very well for most of the match, with small periods, sometimes moments, when they dropped their pace. The intensity was there and not a single player had a poor game. Banbury had a very strong scrum and showed they could attack and defend in equal measure. In the end, Chinnor's handling, good support play and general persistence gave them the edge.
Referee: Mr Callum Varrall (OSRFR)
Photos courtesy of Michelle Nixon.