Blackheath 15 – Chinnor 17
Report by Jack Johnson, Chinnor Rugby Club
CHINNOR produced a battling display to start their 2019/20 campaign with a narrow victory at Blackheath.
Second-half tries from Tom Fidler and Ofisa Treviranus proved enough as the Oxfordshire side dug deep to see off their battling hosts in the National League 1 opener at Well Hall.
Chinnor’s stronger and heavier pack dominated proceedings throughout, but Blackheath were able to cause problems with some fine running rugby.
The visitors led 17-7 with 52 minutes on the clock, but the hosts set up a nervy finish, closing to within two points in the latter stages.
However, Chinnor, who had named ten debutants in their starting XV, saw out the game well to kick-off their campaign with a win.
Matt Williams’s side made a strong start, dominating possession and territory in the early stages, before opening up a 3-0 lead thanks to fly-half Laurence May’s fifth-minute penalty.
Blackheath were soon reduced to 14 men, when prop Danny Herriott was sin-binned for his part in an altercation with hooker Nick Selway.
Chinnor looked to make the extra man count and put their hosts under severe pressure. They looked certain to extend their lead, but Selway was held up as they were unable to make the most of a succession of penalties.
The beginning of the match was stop-start, but Blackheath, despite being pinned in their own half for 28 minutes, kept the score at 3-0.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead from their first foray into the Chinnor half, but a penalty had already been awarded to the visitors when Markus Burcham dotted down.
Blackheath then threatened again when Leo Fielding broke from his own half and fed Tom Burns, but Chris Elder did brilliantly to turn over possession.
However, the hosts struck on the brink of half-time when scrum-half Jack Daly darted over following a lineout and fly-half Mark Cooke converted from the touchline to make it 7-3.
Chinnor responded well and piled on the pressure at the start of the second period.
Blackheath stopped Selway just short, before prop Fidler forced his way over from close range, May converting, to put the Oxfordshire side 10-7 in front after 45 minutes.
The hosts conceded a succession of penalties, which allowed Chinnor, led by their mighty pack, to continue to build momentum and their lead was extended to ten points on 52 minutes when No 8 Treviranus stretched over, May adding the extras.
But Blackheath refused to lie down and they reduced the arrears to five points with 14 minutes to go when Alex Pickersgill raced over after being released by Jake Lloyd.
A Cooke penalty then saw Chinnor’s lead cut to 17-15 on 71 minutes, giving the home faithful hope of a comeback.
But the visitors controlled the latter stages well, while Blackheath were reduced to 14 for the final few moments when Tom Williams was sin-binned.
Blackheath: Fielding, Lloyd, Pickersgill, Burcham, Dowsett, Cooke, Daly; Williams, Perks, Herriott, Catt, Stradwick, Owen, Poole, Burns.
Replacements: Hamilton, Seward, Scott, Liebenberg, Staff.
Chinnor: Harries, Worrall, Elder, Barnes, Goss, May, Flinn; Fidler, Selway, Jeannot, Thomas, Sheriff, Dancer, Kirwan, Treviranus.
Replacements: George, McNulty, W Ryan, Watson, Yawayawa.
Darlington Mowden Park 37, Richmond 40
Report from Richmond Website
Richmond have started their 2019/20 National 1 season with a breath-taking 40-37 win over Darlington Mowden Park.
Trailing by four points with only seconds left on the clock, replacement forward Callum Torpey drove over the line, from close range, to snatch a thrilling opening day win.
It was an incredible finish to a match which Richmond led 23-12 at half-time, before a frantic period by DMP, resulting in a hat-trick to Darlington wing Shaun McCartney.
For Richmond, Rob Kirby was excellent with the boot, kicking four penalty goals and slotting 4 conversions, while Jimmy Litchfield, Andrew Boyce, Jake Parker and Callum Torpey all crossed the line.
Director of Rugby Steve Hill said post-match, “I’m really pleased for the guys. We knew it was going to be a tough trip up here to Darlington. We were down by two tries with eight minutes to go but I am really proud by the way the squad fought back and got themselves the win. They worked very hard, and showed a lot of heart and desire.”
The bonus-point win will give Richmond huge confidence heading into their first home match of the season against Chinnor next Saturday
Birmingham Moseley 70, Hull Ionians 16
Match report by Paul Smith, Birmingham Moseley Rugby
Aquile Smith’s hat-trick plus two-timers for Buster Lawrence, Jacques le Roux and Mason Tonks saw Birmingham Moseley to an entertaining 11-try National One win over Hull Ionians.
Fielding a side containing only two survivors from the opening day of last season, the Red-and-Blacks clicked into gear from the outset to build a 24-6 half-time lead.
And playing down the slope Adam Balding’s men added a further eight scores to register a very welcome bonus point success.
They also ended an emotional few days with the best possible rugby tribute to club legend Alan Thomas who died suddenly in the week.
When Ionians were shunted off an early scrum, former Cov No.10 Ben Palmer slotted three easy points.
A typically powerful Lawrence burst then allowed John Davetanivalu to send winger Tonks very close before Palmer released Smith on the opposite flank from the resulting scrum to claim the day’s opening try.
Mose extended their advantage to 17 points when le Roux’s break and well-timed pass sent Tonks over for a score which Palmer improved.
And after Joe Green’s penalty had put Ionians on the board, le Roux dived over from close range to register a third home five-pointer – again converted – following a series of forward thrusts.
One blot on Moseley’s landscape came in the shape of their high first-half penalty count, and Green kicked his second three-pointer on the stroke of half-time.
The home side claimed five further tries in a thrilling third quarter which was launched by Lawrence’s powerful bonus-point clinching effort, which Palmer again improved.
Nathanael Titchard-Jones then scooped up a bouncing ball on the visitors’ 22 and showed a fine turn of pace to gallop to the line.
The final five minutes of the third quarter saw three further tries added, all of which stemmed from positions inside the home half.
Moseley’s wingers combined to create and finish the first of these as Tonks gathered Smith’s chip ahead to crash over for a score which Palmer upgraded.
The home fly half then turned supplier with a slashing 40-metre slashing diagonal break and a neat offload which left Smith with the easiest of finishes in the clubhouse corner.
Mose’s debutant left winger almost immediately completed his three-timer when he applied the finishing touch to a flowing move which saw the ball cross the field twice and go through multiple pairs of hands.
Hull claimed their first touchdown of the afternoon 14 minutes from time when hooker Ben Stephenson applied the finishing touch to a lineout drive.
But Moseley pressure soon forced a turnover in the Hull 22 from which lock Danny Wright eventually scored.
Enough time remained for prop Ben Bell to claim a second Ionians try following two close-range lineouts, before le Roux forced his way into the corner after more good handling to send the Red-and-Black faithful home happy.
Birmingham Moseley 70-16 Hull Ionians
Birmingham Moseley: O’Brien; Smith, Davetanivalu, Joyce, Tonks; Palmer, Arr; Titchard-Jones, Austin, Dimen; Worthington, Wright; Lawrence, Stephens, le Roux.
Replacements: Biggs, Foreman, Tideswell, Dawes, Jolly.
Hull Ionians: Trueman; Colbourne, Tincknell, Hardy, Turagabeci; Crane, Green; Laverick, Stephenson, Bell; Peters, Mewburn; Brown, Whyte, Torkington.
Replacements: Peace, Thundercliffe, Beadle, Carlile, Magee.
Rosslyn Park 38, Rotherham Titans 19
Report by Rotherham Rugby website
Rotherham Titans put in a sterling performance before eventually going down 38-19 to a very good Rosslyn Park outfit at The Rock on the opening day of the season.
Park’s star-studded side boasted double figures of former Premiership players and could even afford to have a former England international sat on the bench, in prop forward Paul Doran-Jones.
So whilst the challenge was always going to be a tough one for the Titans, they can hold their heads high as they made the hosts graft hard for the victory, whilst playing some accomplished rugby themselves.
In an entertaining first half each side crossed the whitewash twice, with the hosts racing out of the blocks to dot down first on 6 minutes through number 8 Hugo Ellis.
However, Rotherham responded quickly and levelled matters four minutes later when Connor Dever fed Dan Leake who had drifted infield off his wing to break through, before finding the impressive Tom Bacon who showed good pace to run in and score next to the sticks.
Titans would have been disappointed to have worked such a fine try only to fall behind again just 2 minutes later when centre Joe Munroe eased through.
Undeterred though Rotherham continued to look bright in their work and a slick backs move just after the half hour mark resulted in Dan Leake racing down the left flank before cutting back inside to score near the posts for another impressive dot down.
Although fully deserving of being level at the break, a poor exit just after the restart from Rotherham saw them once again fall behind when full back Henry Robinson grabbed the host’s third try.
Further tries followed for Park through former Titans fly half Greg Lound and prop forward Stewart Maguire to seal the game. However, Titans kept battling and gained a late reward when centre Jamie Cooke barged his way over to seal an impressive personal performance.
Speaking afterwards, Titans Director of Rugby, Martin Jenkinson, was not too downhearted as he explained, “It’s strange to have just lost a game 38-19 and to be stood here thinking we’ve got massive positives out of it. I think today’s performance proved we can front-up to the top sides in the division and we have physicality in our squad.
“Our cause wasn’t helped in the second half with the injuries we picked up and we let ourselves down early in that period with our exit play.
“It was only a couple of poor exits in the second half that cost us dearly and overall we probably gave them three scores and we need to erase those kind of errors from our game. Moving forwards, if we can put that right we will get very different results.
“I’m quite encouraged; we made no secret of the fact that this is the last fixture in the league that we would have chosen as our first game and with that in mind I am looking forward to the rest of the season.
“We had lots of boys making their debuts and it will take a little bit of time for them to bed in and some players today got their first taste of National One rugby and on the back of that I think we can take lots of positives.
“There were some quality individual performances, but I thought Tom Bacon showed what a good player he is. He oozed class every time he got the ball and in everything he did. “
Sale FC 22, Cinderford 46
Report from Cinderford website
Cinderford got their new National One campaign underway with a sensational performance to earn them a bonus point victory over Sale FC at Heywood Road.
In perfect playing conditions the visitors were quickly into their stride and a catch and drive from an attacking lineout led to a try in the corner from hooker Nathan Taylor, which was well converted by outside-half James Butler. Then quick hands and a mid-field break by centre Jack Hayes created the opportunity for winger Sam Smith to score after 12 minutes of play, which was again converted by Butler. The Forest team continued to impress and pressure on their opponents scrum earned them a couple of penalties which were successfully kicked by Butler to give his team a 20-0 lead on the half hour.
As half-time approached a poor kick allowed Sale to build up some momentum and winger Patrick Ah Van went over for an unconverted try. Then a driving maul resulted in a try for flanker Jake Barron, which was converted by Chris Johnson to make it 20-12 at the interval.
The second-half began at a frantic pace with Cinderford stretching their lead when Butler intercepted a hurried pass and raced away to score a try, which he also converted. Sale responded with another try from a driving maul when hooker Oliver Longmore touched down. The visitors ensured their victory with a three-try burst in an eight minute spell, the first came when the home pack were shoved back off their own ball at a 5m scrummage and No8 Harry Hone scored their bonus point try. Then a loose pass in mid-field saw winger Ed Bogue race clear from half-way to score, both of which were converted by Butler to give him 21 points in the match.
Cinderford’s sixth and final try came when some quick inter-passing down the blindside released replacement flanker Matt Lane to score. There was still time for the home team to earn themselves a try scoring bonus point when Teddy Leatherbarrow touched down, but it was little more than consolation as Cinderford ended up emphatic winners.
Cinderford; Ed Sheldon, Sam Smith, Terence Babarinsa, Jack Hayes, Ed Bogue, James Butler, Jimmy Williams, George Porter, Nathan Taylor, James Elliot, George Evans, Dale Lemon, Matthew Gilbert, Joe Mullis, Harry Hone. Replacements; Joe Smart, Tyler Jerrum, Matt Lane, Alex Frame, Stefan Hawley.
Plymouth Albion 40, Bishop’s Stortford 42
Report by John Allanson, Bishop’s Stortford rugby
Memorable first victory for Stortford at Plymouth in a nail biting encounter.
After 17 minutes Stortford were 21 points down to 3 converted tries, which were well finished by Plymouth, but it has to be said were largely the product of some sloppy Stortford play. The visitors then started to show their character, though, firing back with two converted tries of their own in the next 6 minutes. The first touchdown went to Rob Duff, rounding off an incisive move with Will Roberts, making the decisive break. This showed that the home defence was far from fireproof and the second score went to Roberts himself, demonstrating clearly that a season away with injury had in no way dampened his firey spirit, as he deservedly rounded off a period of strong team pressure, built on good work by skipper, Sam Winter. Brad Burr converted both to take his side within 7 points and this gap was closed 11 minutes later, when Dan Elsom was driven over by the rest of the pack, after the flanker had initially been held up out wide after some determined teamwork had created space out wide, with Burr again adding the extras. This seesaw game continued in similar vein, though, with the home side capitalising on a penalty almost directly from the restart to go for touch and opting to spread the ball wide from the resultant lineout, rather than depending on the hitherto reliable driving pack. This allowed Dan Mugford to touch down out wide, from where the flyhalf was unable to add the two points. The visitors battled back and, with time running out, forced a penalty on the Plymouth 22 and Burr duly kicked the three points to take his side into the break only 2 points adrift which, given the 21 points start given to the opposition was a great result.
Stortford started the second period strongly and recovered from a poor knock-on in the home 22 to produce a powerful drive at the resultant scrum to force a penalty and take the lead for the first time in the match via Burr’s boot. This narrow margin was extended within 5 minutes, when Sam Winter darted down the short side of an attacking ruck for an unconverted try after a period of sustained Stortford pressure. Almost inevitably, though, in this see-sawing game, Plymouth fought back and Cameron Setters touched down after 11 minutes of the half, after Stortford’s defence was, not for the first time stretched to breaking point out wide and a great conversion by Mugford took his side back into a 1 point lead. The visitors proved their own resilience within 3 minutes, with Dan Elsom registering his second try, as an excellent long pass from midfield found the flanker lurking unmarked out on the wing. The very difficult conversion attempt went wide and the home side bounced back, subjecting the Stortford defence to a real pounding. Despite holding out for several minutes, they were eventually undone from yet another penalty kick for touch within their 22 when, despite some excellent initial defence, they were forced to concede a penalty under the posts and quick ball from the resultant scrum saw winger, Josh Skelcey in for his second try with some 10 minutes left. Yet another great conversion from Mugford from the touchline took his side into a 3 point lead. The visitors, having lost here at the death last season, now showed their true character, fighting back to mount a concerted assault on the Plymouth 22, where a penalty was forced. The touch kick produced a lineout some 10 metres out from the home line and, although the initial driving maul was halted, a secondary press from the forwards saw the pack drive over out wide for a try and a 2 point lead. It was at this very late juncture that Stortford demonstrated a crucial improvement from last season, in that the pack, very well marshalled by scrumhalf, Sam Coleman then proceeded to see out the remaining 3 or 4 minutes by going through phase after phase from a series of rucks on their own 22 to see the clock run down for a notable away victory.
Cambridge 32, Rams RFC 36
Report from Cambridge Rugby website
The first match of the season always brings special anticipation. Pre-season games are important, but do not tell the whole story. The only true measure of a team is league competition. It is especially true when playing a side about which we know little.
The Blood and Sand were handing first caps to five new recruits, as well as awarding George Bretag Norris his 100th cap and first as Captain. How would the new team gel?
Rams steamrollered National 2 last season, were reported to have recruited wisely, would they be able to make the step up?
Cambridge drew first blood when the visitors infringed and Ben Penfold took a confident long range penalty. A knock on gave Rams a scrum. An early injury to Jake McCloud brought Louis Rawlings onto the field. Scrum pressure led to a a Rams try but the conversion was missed.
Cambridge struck back straight away with Andy Henderson feeding the ball to Joe Tarrant who made a diagonal run to theline for his first try – but Ben could not slot the conversion.
The next twenty minutes were all Rams, with their pack disrupting our set pieces. They added two tries converting both. The teams then exchanged penalties to end the half, with the visitors up 11-22. Cambridge also lost Oli Petrides with Ed Brown replacing him.
In the second half a turnover in the Cambridge half gave Rams a great attacking position and they scored their fourth try.
Cambridge grabbed a lifeline when Alex Rayment battled over to score, but this was almost instantly cancelled out by Rams fifth. The Blood and Sand dug deep and fought back in the last twenty, Alex Rayment adding a second and James Martin his first for Cambridge – but time was running out and Rams were able to claim the restart and end the match.
Cambridge to bank two bonus points, useful but not what we wanted. But had we grabbed the late win it would not have reflected the balance of the match.
Hopefully the team will fire from the first whistle when we face Bishop Stortford next week. Do ty to make the trip to support the boys against our local rivals.
Cambridge 32 – 36 Rams