Last Saturday saw one of the highlight fixtures of the season as local rivals CHOBham visited Fairmile Lane to take on a Cobham Cooters side full of confidence. The homeside were clearly up for the challenge, turning up with a squad of over 25 players, all of whom were more pumped than a Darren Beardon team-talk.
The early stages saw some great forward play give the homeside a huge territorial advantage, only for sloppy handling to allow CHOBham to clear their lines. This didn’t last long as Cooters full back and captain Ian Parker began to return the ball with interest after some misplaced kicks. A Cobham break down the left wing was snuffed out by some good cover defence, resulting in a CHOBham lineout 5 metres from their line. An overthrow allowed mercurial scrum half Rhys Campbell-Smith the chance to gather and execute a Callum-step round one defender before offloading in contact to a rampaging Hugh Wilkinson to crash over for the first score of the game. Campbell-Smith slotting the extras.
CHOBham would not take a backwards step and their powerful scrummaging created a platform for some great attacking opportunities, however they were unable to take the chances. Further inaccurate touch finders let Cooters right wing Declan Danaher swivel his hips like a salsa dancer at pace through the defensive line, making huge yards into the visitors half. The Cobham pack continued to apply pressure with flanker Alex Humber breaking all sorts of tackles. Part-time openside Kevin Langston thought he had touched down after winning a turnover close to the CHOBham line, only for the ref to call the play back for side entry to the ruck.
This mattered little however as a few minutes later the Cooters collected their second try of the match. Some slick hands from Mark Jones at fly half moved the ball to Campbell-Smith who ran at the CHOBham defense, before passing the ball over the top to a marauding Wilkinson as he again dragged several defenders over the tryline to score, this time the conversion missing to leave the score at 12-0.
CHOBham returned with some good quick passing of their own to make it into the Cobham 22. An infringement at the breakdown gifted the visitors a penalty, their fly half kicking the points from 30 metres out. The openings Cooters were making kept appearing and just before half time a big overlap was spotted out wide and centre Phil Hunt ghosted through the CHOBham defence to dot down. The 2 points being added to bring the score to 19-3.
The second half saw the home side ring the changes as both the young and wise entered the fray. It was a special and proud day for Cooters stalwart Kieran Notter as he packed down in the second row with his teenage son Ryan for the very first time. Notter Jnr showing his old man the ropes with some hard tackles and great energy around the park. A bout of heavy rain threatened to put a dampener on proceedings (get it, dampener….seriously who writes this stuff), but due to the strength in depth of the squad the score line continued to increase for the Cooters.
Tom Cowan, coming out of retirement for the second weekend in a row, scored a second half brace to make him re-consider the pre-season choice to prematurely end his playing career. One out of two conversions going over.
Chobham managed to score their only try of the game as they took advantage of a yellow card shown to Joao Silva for a one handed knockdown in the Cooters 22. Solid pressure paid its toll as the visitors worked the ball through the hands to touch down in the corner. The conversion missing the uprights.
Wilkinson was on hand to finish his hat trick in-between the Cowan double to earn himself a jug in the clubhouse. Silva managed to redeem his earlier misdemeanor before the end of the game after some smooth passing from the evergreen Owen Ashton found Nick Sutton in space who broke the line to set up Silva under the posts. Again Campbell-Smith added the extras to leave the final score 43 – 8.
The win was suitably enjoyed in the Club house