Amersham national league rugby team lose 5-8 to Barnstaple on Saturday 17th December
By BMeiring | Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 20:10
On Saturday Amersham & Chiltern made the longest journey of the season, a good 4 hours each way, but despite that they definitely gave fourth placed Barnstaple a real shock, and secured a valuable bonus point in a 8 - 5 narrow loss.
Amersham & Chiltern score 5 against Barnstaple's 8 points.
The dedicated travelling supported witnessed one of the most courageous displays this season, with all 18 players making their contribution, in front of the biggest crowd of the season, 535 people turned up to watch this encounter in Devon.
On a blustery day in Barnstaple, the game kicked off, with Chiltern making a solid start, building their phases of play. Barnstaple soon declared their game plan, constantly kicking away possession, allowing full back Chris Jacks to rebuild from deep. With 10 minutes gone, Barnstaple mounted an attack into the Chiltern 22, but a loose pass was pounced on by centre Craig Webb, who fly kicked the ball up to the halfway line, and then showed his pace to put the covering defence under pressure.
Chris Jacks was following up and pushed the ball deep into Barnstaples half and the forwards set up a great second phase. The ball was swung across the back line for flanker Wayne Wilson to score in the right hand corner.
Unfortunately centre Ross Bugden didn't manage the long range conversion in difficult cross winds and it was these weather conditions that continued to impact the first half, as Barnstaple's game plan to kick deep wasn't working, despite Chilterns fly half Rob Smalley showing them the way to do it with some great kicks deep into Barnstaple territory.
The first half continued with Barnstaple trying to claw they way back into the game, securing a penalty in front of the posts, and then in the dying minutes of the half scoring their only try deep into the right hand corner.
Half time score was 8 - 5 to the opposition.
The second half was set up for a tense affair. Unfortunately, Rob Smalley couldn't take the field for the half having picked up a shoulder injury so Mike Perera took the field as his replacement.
Also, quickly into the half, hooker Ben French took a knock to head and so was replaced by Dan Pettinger. But it was the referee that took centre stage, awarding a series of yellow cards to Chiltern players.
Firstly try scorer Wilson was harshly adjudged to deliberately knocked on, when if he had manage to hold onto the ball his attempted interception could have seen him have clear run from the half way line. But within two minutes scrum half, Dwayne Polataivao followed for being offside. Unfortunately the referee hadn't spotted that Barnstaple had actually dropped the ball and Chiltern had secured possession.
For the next 8 minutes Chiltern's remaining 13 players defended their try line with a passion and commitment that won them support of everyone watching. Despite the largest crowd of the season getting behind the home side, Barnstaple didn't manage to add to their first half score.
It was with some relief that Chiltern held out to see all 15 players return to the field, but the pattern of play was established. Barnstaple continued to press the Chiltern defence, but the defence held strong every time.
Yet again another yellow card for collapsing the maul saw prop Rhys Cadogan taking ten minute rest. Following the earlier injury to a front row player, however, this forced the game to continue with uncontested scrums.
The last Chiltern substitution brought the youngest member of the squad, eighteen years old Ollie Cato on as a replacement for second row Cam Gentles.
The Chiltern defence continued to hold, and late on a quickly taken tap penalty by scrum half Polataivao saw Chiltern break out of their half. Some desperate defence by Barnstaple, however, prevented a dramatic conclusion.
Despite a loss, it was definitely one of performances of the season by Chiltern, who through their commitment and tenacity are sending a message to the whole league – "don't be fooled by our position in the table, we can take anyone on, and we aren't giving up our place in the National League 3!".