Chinnor cruelly denied victory in Kent as Canterbury edge it by a single point.
This was very much a game of two halves with Canterbury completely dominating the first and Chinnor the second.
Although Chinnor lost by just one point, there were two distinct factors leading to the loss. James Cathcart had a poor day with the boot missing all available kicks.
However he has won so many matches for Chinnor over many years, we can forgive him an off day. More disconcerting was the referee’s refusal to award Chinnor a penalty try towards the end of the match. Resolutely camped 10m out from the Canterbury line, Chinnor elected to scrum on each of four occasions.
Each time, the home side’s pack disintegrated with the award of another penalty to Chinnor. The second penalty saw a yellow card for Canterbury’s Sherson. On the third occasion, with the Canterbury pack retreating at a rate, the scrum began to collapse as the ball got to within a few metres of the line where a home player dived on the ball whilst it was still in the scrum. It looked a certain penalty try to all bar the most important man on the pitch who simply awarded yet another penalty.
This time, with prospect of a penalty try seemingly impossible, Chinnor’s Joe Kava picked from the base of the scrum and after a few rucks, Andrew Smith went over for his second try of the match. Cathcart missed from out wide. Had a penalty try been awarded, the kick would not have been missed and Chinnor would have secured victory.
The game started well for Canterbury when Best went over for a try on the 11th minute after pressure on the Chinnor defence. Scott Browne’s conversion made the score 7-0 to the home side. He stepped up again on the 17th minute for a successful penalty goal when Chinnor were adjudged offside in midfield.
He repeated the dose on the 25th minute to increase the home lead to 13-0. Chinnor’s Matt Goode, restored to the match after receiving stitches for a head wound, was back on the field a few seconds when he received a yellow card from the ref. From the resultant penalty, Brown increased Canterbury’s lead to 16-0 which they held to half-time.
Canterbury came out firing for the second half and scored their second try of the match through Oeyun-Jones just three minutes into the half. It looked like the floodgates were about to open for Chinnor when they decided they wanted to play. Chinnor opted for a lineout from a penalty awarded in midfield.
From the lineout, a rapid passing movement saw Colver from full back scoot over for Chinnor’s first try of the day on the 52nd minute. Chinnor pressed the home defence and, after a series of rucks, near the try line, Andrew Smith powered over for a try to reduce the lead to 21-10.
It wasn’t long before Chinnor were back to start their marathon of penalty scrums when the penalty try appeared a formality. The referee’s resistance to the idea forced Kava wide to allow Smith in for Chinnor’s third try and a match score of 21-15.
It looked all over for Chinnor when, pressing Canterbury in their 22, the ball was lost. It was fly hacked and stood up nicely for one of the three Canterbury players free in midfield. However, Gray flew from his wing to prevent the score and gain Chinnor a penalty.
Stoop then put a foot in touch in the act of scoring and minutes later Gray looked certain for a try but was overhauled by the rapid Melford. With a minute to go, Chinnor scored their fourth try of the half wide out from Hopwood. As the kick fell short of the posts, the ref blew for full time and a 21-20 victory to Canterbury.
Canterbury were organised and very much in control of the first half with fly half Browne kicking well and Oeyun-Jones always a threat.
Chinnor, all at sea for the first half, turned things around well in the second half outscoring their opponents 20-5 for the half and coming away with two bonus points. Despite scoring four tries to their opponent’s two, just one successful kick would have clinched it for the visitors from Thame. It was a good day for the front row and Joe Kava scorched the earth whenever he got the ball. And then there’s the penalty try that never was ...