THIRTEEN-MAN Chobham held on to claim an impressive 37-31 home win over fourth-placed Hemel Hempstead in Regional Two Thames last Saturday (November 4).
The villagers lost Dan Benton and Josh Sheppard to the sin bin in the closing stages and came under immense pressure from the visitors.
But Chob repelled wave after wave of Hemel attacks and picked up five points to consolidate sixth spot in the table.
Harry Norman-Walker, the Scarlet & Golds’ director of rugby, said: “Those fans who’d travelled to Isleworth on October 21 to see us do everything we could to try to lose against Grasshoppers could hardly believe a repeat performance would happen against Hemel Hempstead. But it was like a deja vu of the Grasshoppers game.
“Hemel were a very strong, well-drilled team. But a much better performance from us let us take the five-point win.
“Hemel were one of the hardest opponents we’d faced this season.
“Our patterns were probably the best this season but we can’t afford to switch off at all in games. We must play our own game and not let the opposition dictate play.”
Chob head coach Robbie Kennard said: “I really enjoyed watching two teams go at each other with contrasting styles of play.
“In the first half we were excellent and played some really good rugby. We looked after possession well and really caused them some issues with our ability to move the ball.
“The second half was littered with the whistle – but full credit to Hemel and their big pack. They played in the right areas and to their obvious strengths.
“In what seemed to be a frantic last five minutes we went down to 13 men and held on for the win. Huge credit to the character of the Chobham boys in what can only be described as adversity.”
And skipper Guy Mawhood said: “In the first half we were excellent. We played the way we know we can.
“Our defence was something we were working on throughout the week and we were very well organised.
“Our attack was clinical and we deserved to go in at half-time with a good lead.
“In the second half we had a lot of decisions go against us and we struggled to gain field position or momentum in attack. We spent the majority of the half defending – and eventually cracks started appearing and we ended up shipping too many points.
“Overall we deserved the win and we’re improving every week.
“The boys have bought into training and the numbers we’re getting are going up and up all the time, which is great to be a part of.
“I’m really proud of everyone who stepped up today because it was a real physical battle.”
The Scarlet & Golds led 24-7 at the turn thanks to a try apiece from Pete McCain, Josh Sheppard and Mawhood, and three conversions and a penalty by Sam Davies.
Davies landed another penalty early in the second half but Hemel cut the deficit to 27-19, taking advantage of the hosts having Nieem Khan sin-binned for a high tackle.
Another penalty from Davies followed but Hemel scored a converted try to leave them only four points behind.
After 62 minutes, Davies touched down and added the extras, taking his points haul for the season to 100. And the home side led 37-26.
However, things started to go wrong for the Surrey Heath men.
Norman-Walker said: “In the final five minutes we appeared to self-destruct – and the referee definitely didn’t help the outcome.
“It started when Chris Kent was turned over from a defensive scrum to allow Hemel full-back James Norman to score in the corner. From the retstart, a dangerous tackle saw Benton head to the sin bin.
“With little time left, Hemel knew they had to run the ball – and after another high tackle, Sheppard went to the sin bin.
“Our defence held fast as wave after wave of attacks by the visitors didn’t penetrate.
“Eventually a turnover saw John Rumsey kick the ball dead. We ended with 13 men but, more importantly, a win.”
The game was a milestone for Chobham forward Matt Bosworth, who made his 50th appearance for the senior XV.
Norman-Walker said: “Bosworth played as a junior at Chobham before heading off to play at London Irish, winning back-to-back Surrey Championships at under-15 and under-16 levels.
“He went on to play for the University of Surrey before returning to Chobham in 2018.
“That season he made his debut, at number eight, in a side that won 27-0 at Hove.”