Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Rams see the light in thrilling victory

RAMS’ director of Rugby Seb Reynolds hailed a wonderful game after the hosts picked up a 38-22 derby day victory against Chinnor in the first National One Friday Night Lights game at Old Bath Road, writes Richard Ashton.

Tries from Ben Henderson and skipper Robbie Stapley – who became a dad for the second time on the morning of the game – pushed the hosts into a 12-0 lead on the back of a Drew Humberstone conversion, but Chinnor replied with a score from Kieran Goss.

The home side were on top in the pack, though, and after Ben Glynn was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul illegally, man-of-the-match Stapley doubled his tally. A James Bourton penalty made it 17-8 at the interval, but when Jak Rossiter crossed on 50 minutes, Humberstone converting, Rams seemed to be in control.

However, Chinnor replied in fabulous fashion and tries from Keston Lines and Bourton, both converted by the latter, reduced the deficit to two points.

Yet captain Stapley went over with 10 minutes to go and a slick backs move set-up Bird for his 10th try of the season in injury time, replacement Sam Nicholls completing the scoring with a conversion against his childhood club.

Reflecting on yet another epic encounter to add to the annals between the sides, Reynolds said: “Chinnor came back really well in the second half and they’re a quality side, they’ve got great players, made excellent line breaks passing back to the inside and they’re also very good when they get into the 22.

“Their pick-and-go game is very powerful and they’re hard to stop, but I was really pleased with the way we wrestled back control and played some strong rugby – we started the game well and finished very strongly.”

Skipper Stapley was without his injured long-term comrades Jamie Guttridge and Tom Vooght in the back row, but James McRae and Vince Everitt stepped up to the plate.

Reynolds said: “They’ve grafted all year and earned their spots – there was a really nice balance there with Vinny superb at the breakdown, he got some really good turnovers and also held his width in attack.

“James is ever-present in attack and defence, he’s full of energy, vocal and had a good impact on the game.”

Another feature of the contest was the scrum battle, where Rams’ record cap-holder James Baker more than held his own against a star-studded Chinnor front row.

Reynolds said: “I think James is one of the best tight-heads in the country in terms of scrummaging – I’ve not seen better.”

He said Sam Nicholls deserved his opportunity because he had been excellent for the Titans all year and he came off the bench very well against Brunel last week.

“His control and play were so good a discussion went out about whether we thought he was ready to go up against his boyhood club.

“We said ‘yes, he is’. I was really pleased for him.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say