Newly promoted to this league, Chinnor’s long trip to Launceston for the first match of the season proved fruitful as the boys from Thame returned 33-29 winners.
The game started badly for Chinnor when tight head prop Pickett was sin binned after just 45 seconds for unnecessary foul play. The first score of the day came from Launceston’s highly influential Lewis Patterson who ran in a simple try after a missed tackle. With the conversion from Kieron Lewitt , Launceston (whose 1st XV go by the nickname of Cornish All Blacks) went 7-0 ahead on the 10th minute.
Four minutes later, Cathcart, with a penalty goal, scored Chinnor’s first points of the afternoon. In the 18th minute, a downfield kick was fielded by Goode who set off on a mazy run through the defence. A quick offload to Gilbert and an inside pass saw the supporting Colver dot down for Chinnor’s first try. Cathcart’s conversion gave the visitors a 10-7 lead.
The try of the match came in the 24th minute from a Chinnor line out some 30 metres from the Cornish All Blacks line. Quick ball off the top saw a rapid flat passing movement get the ball into Gray’s hands on the wing. His scorching pace left the defence for dead to score Chinnor’s second try of the afternoon for a 15-7 lead.
Launceston then began to pile on the pressure and set up camp on the Chinnor line. The pressure eventually told and Patterson scored his and the all Blacks second try. Lewitt’s conversion reduced the Chinnor lead to 15-14 at half time.
Eight minutes into the second half, Lewitt restored the all Blacks lead to 17-15 with a penalty goal. Launceston again pulverised the Chinnor line who held firm for a considerable period until Patterson broke the deadlock with his hat-trick try on the 53rd minute to further increase the home lead to 22-15.
Chinnor, not dismayed by this period of considerable pressure stuck to their swashbuckling approach to the game. Chinnor’s Chase attempted to get free down the left wing but some foul play in the tackle saw Launceston’s Lewitt sent to the bin for 10 minutes. At the line out from the resultant penalty kick, Chinnor lost the ball but managed to partially charge down the attempted clearance kick. The ball was moved to Stoop who slipped Goode in for a powerful run to the line for Chinnor’s third try on the 58th minute. Cathcart’s conversion was a formality to level the match at 22-22.
Just one minute later, Launceston infringed on the centre spot. Cathcart’s towering penalty kick gave Chinnor a 25-22 lead.
Disaster struck Chinnor in the 69th minute with a charged down kick. The ball bounced comfortably for Launceston’s Friend to pick up and slowly stroll unopposed to the line for the home side’s fourth try. Lewitt’s conversion gave Launceston a 29-25 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Chinnor reacted boldly to the setback. They attempted to run the ball at every opportunity and their efforts saw them awarded a penalty some 30 metres out when the All Blacks Richard Bright was sin binned for slapping the ball away in a three on one overlap. Cathcart duly slotted to reduce the match score to 29-28 in favour of Launceston.
The visitors continued to look for gaps and Chase touched down wide out on the left for it to be harshly ruled out. This only served to galvanise Chinnor. From forward play wide on the right, Jordan Wood carried the ball strongly through several tackles. The ball was whipped from the ruck and an extravagantly long miss pass found Chase at full pace scoring in the left hand corner on the 78th minute to give the boys from Thame a 33-29 bonus point victory.
This was a most entertaining match with the lead changing hands several times. The result could have gone either way. The difference was perhaps Chinnor’s never say die attitude. At several points in the match, Chinnor was put on under enormous pressure by the home side and the match seemed as though it was beginning to drift away from them. They never gave in and their boldness ultimately brought them victory.
The kicking of Launceston’s Lewitt and Webber will trouble any side and in Lewis Patterson they possess a real attacking talent. Although there were individual contributions of great merit for Chinnor, this performance was a team effort and the victory was forged from boldness and belief.
Team: Colver, Gray, Goode, Stoop, Chase, Cathcart, Jones, Stock (Berry 67), Tattersall, Pickett (Whelan 67), Blewitt (Wood 62), Smith, Gilbert, Williams, Kava
Replacements: Whelan, Berry, Wood, Davies, Fielding