Cracks in A&C pack a crucial factor in defeat
Inexperience up front caused by injuries and absences
NATIONAL THREE LONDON & SOUTH EAST Amersham & Chiltern 13 London Irish Wild Geese 28 INJURIES and other absences from the pack proved crucial as Amersham & Chiltern lost at home for the first time this season on Saturday.
Coach Richie Williams had billed the clash with London Irish Wild Geese as the test of the season so far, but was forced to commence battle without three specialist tight-head props, who are currently injured, and his powerhouse of recent weeks, Stuart Day, who was unavailable.
Second row Dean McLennan stepped forward to fill the pivotal role, but his lack of experience told in the end as the home scrum conceded a penalty try and two penalties – almost the entire margin between the sides at the end – as it creaked under the pressure.
The hosts began well enough, hitting back after conceding an early penalty to score with the best move of the match.
A series of phases took them to the five-metre line and from the resulting ruck scrum-half Rhys Keith dived over a pile of bodies to score a try, converted for a 7-3 lead. Another penalty followed, but the problems up front then began to surface.
Williams’ men collapsed a scrum near their own line to concede a penalty try, which levelled the scores.
The visitors were now in full flight and another try from a fine break and a penalty meant the hosts trailed 18-10 at the break.
An exchange of penalties soon after the restart, one of which by the visitors was missed, but was astonishingly awarded moved the score onto 21–13.
The home side hung on for the rest of the half with some brave tackling that prevented any further score in the regulation 80 minutes, but in injury time the visitors forced a line-out on the home side’s10-metre line on the left.
A catch-and-drive for the line was held up, but when the ball was released the classy visitor’s fly-half produced a beautifully weighted chip for his centre to run on to and to score near the posts.
Williams will hope one or two of his injured props will be fit for Saturday’s trip to CS Rugby 1863.
Elsewhere, Beaconsfield and Drifters return to Southern Counties North action on Saturday when they host Aylesbury and Wallingford respectively.
Chesham were beaten 31-3 in the Bucks Senior Plate semi-final and are at home to Chipping Norton in the Berks/Bucks & Oxon Premier this weekend.
DIVING IN: Amersham & Chiltern’s Rhys Keith goes over for a try against London Irish Wild Geese