Explosive Finalé For Chobham

IT’S BEEN a long time coming, but Chobham RFC finally got just-reward for their endeavours this season after winning the Surrey Trophy last Saturday, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

Time to Celebrate: Chobham win Surrey Trophy 2017.  Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

In what was a must-win fixture for the Surrey Heath rugby side, Chob gave a no-nonsense performance to sweep aside Battersea Ironsides 38-7 at Esher RFC.

With their league form behind them, Ryan Gregory’s side started the match at high-tempo, which enabled Dan Mays to evade seven challenges and race to open the scoring after just six minutes.

A line-out on the Ironsides’ 10-metre line saw Chob set-up a driving maul, which had been lacking in recent weeks, to force their way over the line with hooker Tom Riley coming up with the ball. Alex Seers kicked the extras to give Gregory’s side a deserved 12-0 lead.

However, Battersea had no intention of letting the match slip away from them. And despite plying their trade two leagues below their opponents in the London 3 South West, they pinned Chobham back for the remaining 20 minutes of the half as the penalty-count reached double figures.

Leading by Example: Ryan Gregory on the ball against Battersea Ironside.  Picture by Chobham RFC

Following an inspired team huddle during the interval, Chobham were in explosive form after the restart when Chris Kent linked up well with Alex Thompson to go over for a third try. Again, Seers made no mistake to covert the extras to give the London 1 South side a 19-0 advantage.

Battersea fly-half Peter Donnell restored some pride for the Wandsworth-based side when he chipped the ball over the Chob backline for his side’s first and only try of the match. Guy Newman added the extras (19-7).

However, tries from Callum Edwards (60’), Ollie Smith (72’) and a lasting momento from player coach Tony Paul (80’) – in his final appearance for the club – sealed a noteworthy 38-7 victory for Chobham, whose claim to the trophy was never in doubt.

Forceful: Ollie Wakefield powers through Battersea Ironside. Picture by Chobham RFC

After the match, Gregory told the News & Mail: “It’s been frustrating at times this season, but on occasions we have been incredible, and today illustrates what we can do on our day.

“Battersea are a good, physical side; we knew that they wouldn’t make it easy for us. However, when our backs or forwards got the ball out wide, we looked really dangerous.

“We’ve rarely been outplayed this season. In some matches, we’ve been on top for 50, 60 and even 70 minutes, but we haven’t always been able to get the win and force it over the line. Small changes will reverse that.

“Winning a trophy this year is a really positive end to the season for the club, the players and the supporters, whose support has been incredible.

“It’s was great to see a lot of smiling faces amongst the supporters, who have had some tough times this year, but their support has been unrelenting. They’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with us wherever we have gone,” he added.

Gregory was particularly pleased that his fellow player coach Tony Paul was also able to bow out on a high, and further expressing his utmost respect and gratitude for the former Harlequins and Rosslyn Park inside centre on what was his last game for the club.

Double Act: Tony Paul and Ryan Gregory. Picture by: Chobham RFC

“Tony is a huge part of the coaching set-up at Chobham,” explained Gregory, “he’s a great guy; a fantastic coach, and has a wealth of experience. We will miss him as a player; especially his direction and organisation on the pitch, but I’m pleased that we will still have him as a coach next season.

“By his own admission, Tony has never been the most prolific of try-scorers, it was lovely, though, that he was able to get on the score sheet against Battersea.”

During the post-match huddle, Gregory told his players that they need to have a big pre-season and return to Fowlers Wells in July pumped and ready to hit the ground running ahead of their first pre-season fixture, scheduled for 12 August.

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