From Joe Jenner’s first minute turn over, and then Adam Mendoza’s crunching tackle, it looked like it might be our day, with Guildford’s pressure in the midfield mopped up and overcome with relative ease.
A well worked ball through the hands gave Chris Chalder his maiden run of the afternoon, outpacing the defence for the first of his four tries [and man of the match performance]. Indeed, in GU7, the phrase ‘chasing shadows’ has now become known as ‘chasing a Chalder’.
With Lucas Stephens as reliable as ever with the boot, 7-0 soon became 14-0 [another Chalder sprint in] and, despite the Blues moving into our 22, defence was comfortable, and a turnover led to a good touch clearance.
As the first quarter of the match concluded, it was an ideal time for Steve Pilgrim to make changes [Dan Willis, Alex Leadbetter, Daniel John and Jon Lloyd all joining the party, with Harry Plowman, Lucas and Adam taking a well-deserved breather; Joe replaced due to injury – hopefully not too serious], and it was not long before a strong scrum saw the ball reach Patch White out wide for our third score of the day.
Guildford came back at us again, and on about 30 minutes successfully ran in a try of their own [5-19]. However, before the half time whistle blew there was still a moment for Chris to get his hat trick and Harry Smith to create a bit of individual magic, bursting through the defence and over the line [rugby pundit Noel Jones was heard to comment ‘That break looked a bit unwise at first…’] – Toby Brann, having taken over kicking duties, duly converted, leaving the half time score 5-31.
The second period continued at a frantic pace, but sensible use of the bench allowed players some respite from the on-field frenzy. Further Guildford pressure was repelled, and then that man Chalder scored again to settle ORs back into their stride.
With Dan Westley replacing Harry at scrum half, some good interplay between him and outstanding No.8 Hugo Mitchell-Heggs saw us move into another attacking position and a pushover try from a 5-metre scrum [Hugo taking the applause] – dominance in the tight being one of the many highlights of the afternoon.
Patch added to his season’s growing try tally and then the most popular score of the afternoon for Mike Layzell, after good following up by debutant Jayden Knights and slick play from Toby. Sandwiched somewhere in between these came Gs further points, after a quick tap penalty on our line; the final action of the day, a try under the posts for Rob Cheal.
So many gratifying points to take from this outing – George Mitchell playing his strongest game for the Club thus far, both in the loose and tight; George Croucher growing in confidence and skill; Olly Guy, doing all the hard work [mostly unnoticed, but hugely important]; the blend of youth and experience working magnificently in tandem [stalwarts Mike and Harry P, in the front row, and Ed Bartlett and Harry S all giving encouragement and sharing knowledge]; new players blooded, and although there were fresh faces in the squad, cohesion was not affected. Most pleasing – our après score concentration loss, allowing the opposition to strike straight back with a try against us, was not on show. The mood, deservedly, was upbeat, with every player able to take away positives about their own performance.
Hopefully, Tiffinians come visiting next week – this display was a fantastic platform to build on!
Jonny Wilkinson look-a-like, Ed Bartlett, having recently finished reading Gavin Hastings’ 1991 blockbuster ‘How to Miss a Sitter’, put the experience to good use by attempting a conversion from in front of the sticks. The ball appeared to take a deep dislike to the posts, veering as far away from them as possible. Later that evening, it was noted that if Ed had been the South African kicker, England may well have made it to the World Cup final.