A GRITTY display on the road heralded five points as Chinnor recorded their first victory since the middle of October.
Apart from a Kieran Goss wonder try worthy of any highlight reel, it wasn’t the prettiest rugby match you would have ever seen - but this one was for Puddy and it meant the world.
At the end of the day, five points is five points, and the boys will take plenty of heart from the way they defended their own try-line in the closing stages, denying Hull a bonus point.
Charley Robinson (2), Epi Rokodrava and Grant Hughes also crossed the whitewash as an away win helped to warm us up on a bitingly cold day, and even our coach temporarily breaking down in Banbury on the way home didn't really dampen the mood.
With Taunton Titans losing heavily at Rosslyn Park, we have climbed a place to 10th in the National 1 table and let’s hope this is just the beginning of our turnaround with Nick Easter starting as Director of Rugby next week.
Two changes were made from the side which lost narrowly at Cambridge a week previously. Oli Curry started at lock on his return from suspension, while there was a debut for winger Rokodrava, who joined on loan from Ealing during the week.
It has got to be said that Hull were incredibly hospitable and, after an emotional week following Puddy’s sudden passing, they very kindly accepted our request to hold a minute’s silence before kick-off and it was immaculately observed.
When the match did get underway we made a lightning start to lead 12-0 after six minutes.
A driving maul on two minutes was just unstoppable and hooker Robinson plunged over to open his try-scoring account for our First XV. Full-back Nick Smith added the extras to make it 7-0.
Just four minutes later and we scored again. Playing through the hands, we created a two-on-one over on the left and centre Hughes fed Rokodrava who charged over to mark his debut with a try.
It was looking like this could be a day where we would rack up the points and had we not been penalised at an eighth-minute maul that was motoring towards the try-line, that could have been the case.
Instead, Hull broke into our half and got on the scoreboard. Despite some great defence, which included a fine shot from Curry, they found their way across from a scrum with Tomasi Tanumi sniping over and Reece Dean adding the extras.
That score didn’t deter us and we were straight back on the attack. A penalty allowed fly-half Will Feeney to boot us deep into their half, before Robinson went close and loosehead Josh Pieterse was stopped short. Another penalty gave us the opportunity to kick to the corner and there was no stopping the driving lineout this time, with Robinson crossing for his second.
The try-scoring didn’t stop there and both sides were to dive over again before the break.
After Dean slotted a penalty for Hull, we hit back with our fourth try of the day to secure the bonus-point. Goss kicked in behind and gave chase, and just when it looked like the hosts had sweeped up the danger, the ball became loose and fell into the welcome arms of Hughes who strolled in under the sticks for his first try for the Club. Smith slotted the conversions to make it 24-10 after 31 minutes.
A theme of the first half had been our dominance in the lineout, but Hull’s meaty pack had enjoyed the upper hand at scrum time. That was to be the source of their second try before the break as, against the head, they had us going backwards close to our own try line and No 8 William Hall profited to touch down for an unconverted score.
We had seen six tries in the first half and, in all honesty, we expected more after the break. However, it became a bit of a below-par match - although we would like to think Puddy would have enjoyed all of the scrummaging.
Moments worthy of note are a superbly timed forceful shot from Conor Brockschmidt, a great lineout steal from Alfie North, a fine grubber from Mark Darlington which nearly played in Goss, and Curry’s brilliant tackle to stop an attack on the blind off a maul.
We did think we had added to our lead on 65 minutes when Rokodrava found his way over, but there had looked to be a forward pass and knock on in the build-up and the try was unsurprisingly not given.
There was only nine points between the sides, but with ten minutes to go the result was made certain and it came via a moment of magic from Goss. He really didn’t have a lot of space to play with, but he remarkably beat three players on his right wing to race over from a good 60m. Tom Price had taken over the kicking duties and his effort went just wide as we now led by 14 points.
Hull finished the half in the ascendancy, but we were not going to let them take anything out of the game. We dealt with everything that was thrown at us in the final stages, although Brockschmidt did suffer a broken nose off an accidental stray elbow from teammate Max Clementson.
All in all, you can’t complain with five points and we head into a new chapter off the back of a victory. 'Make Puddy Proud' was the message to the players this week and we would like to think the double rainbow during the second half was a sign of his approval.
Hull: Dean, Edwards, Heard, Taira, Trueman, Carlisle, Tanumi, Kivalu, Jobling, Boothman, Curry, Regardsoe, Wilson, Cowen-Leak, Hall.
Reps: Hanlon, Beech, Robson, Todd, Johnson.
Chinnor: Smith, Goss, Worrall, Hughes, Rokodrava, Feeney, Carter, Pieterse, Robinson, McNulty, Down, Curry, North, Clementson, Ryan.
Reps: Darlington, Lines, Brockschmidt, Price, Walsh.