Chippenham v Clifton
We defied a superbly drilled opposition, a mind-boggling penalty count against us and perhaps our poorest team performance for 18 months to win through to the final of the Bristol Combination Cup.
It was a case of our individual talents overcoming a very impressive collective effort from Chippenham on a bitterly cold and windy morning at their place, where the semi-final was also played last year.
Having played us twice in the past 12 months and come up short both times, Chippenham had decided to take us on through our pack and the fly-half channel, not wanting to take on our backs out wide.
And it paid them dividends. Their five tries came from tough, driving play which we fought manfully against but ultimately couldn’t resist.
It was a very different encounter to the one earlier in the season when we were much more together and could have won much more convincingly than we did.
But with more than a month since our last match and scant training under our belts we looked far from together this time – which we will have to address before the final against Dings.
However, we opened the scoring after flanker George galloped through their wide defence making 50 yards before being scragged, He then turned to off-load to Sam Read who had run a fantastic supporting line. Elliott converted for a 7-0 lead.
After they scored through their forwards, we responded almost straight from the kick-off when Sam C showed his outstanding pace and determination to run in from 60 yards to make it 12-5.
They then hit back with a try before our newcomer Ashe showed what a dangerous winger he can be with a great burst that took us to within inches of their line – a distance from which prop Louis is devastating. And so he proved, to put us 19-10 up. Elliott then added 2 more with a great conversion from wide out.
Discipline then began to fail us, and while both sides appeared to be consistently offside, we bore the brunt of the ref’s whistle, conceding around a dozen penalties against us in a row.
As a consequence they gained a lot of territorial advantage and scored two tries to lead 20-19.
But if there is one thing that never fails with these boys it’s fighting spirit, especially when all the odds are against them.
And so we came again with another great run from Ashe that led to a ruck near their line and at last we won a penalty. Dom took a quick tap and smashed his way over for us to regain the lead 24-20.
The game became frantic in the last few minutes and somehow the ball landed in the hands of speedy flanker Sennen in space just inside our half. He showed their defence a clean pair of heels to put us safe, 29-20 up.
They had the last say but it was game over – 29-25.
Good win, but much to work on.