Amersham & Chiltern 25 Vikings 7 Report from Paul Morse
Solid Vikings performance but just not enough
A solid all round performance from the Vikings wasn't enough to overcome third placed Chiltern, unbeaten at home this season. The visitors occasionally looked to be in with a chance of upsetting the formbook, but the winners coped with the difficult conditions marginally better and were more clinical at maintaining pressure. 25 - 7 slightly flattered the home side but there was no denying they deserved their victory.
It was a wet and windy day in the Chilterns and, after a difficult journey - completed in taxis after their coach broke down on the M25 - and delayed kick off, the Vikings found themselves playing against the elements in the first half. Chiltern were quickly into their stride, their backs moving the ball about neatly despite the conditions, whereas the Vikings were struggling to retain possession and their kicks into the wind were finding neither touch nor space. The visitors' line was under constant pressure and ten minutes in, after some typically stout Vikings' defence, Chiltern got their first try, Lloyd Anderson expertly gathering a cross kick.
Gradually the game became more even and the middle third of the half was one of the Vikings best spells. A series of penalties, lineouts and drives looked as if they could lead to a score but a mixture of solid defence and poor handling kept them out. Having soaked up the pressure Chiltern then extended their lead on the half hour, Anderson getting his second try, converted from the touchline by Chris Jack. Chiltern were back in the ascendancy, but their decision to kick at goal from a penalty out wide on halfway was indicative they lacked confidence in piercing the Vikings' defence. That kick failed but on the stroke of halftime it became 17-0, Callum Newton scoring following a lineout catch and drive. Always a key time to score psychologically the try was even more crucial in the context of this match: given the conditions overturning a two try deficit looked quite feasible, a three try one much more challenging.
As the players emerged for the second half the rain stopped, easing Chiltern's concerns. The Vikings needed an early score and, with Ryan Oakes and Chalk Hill Brewery Man of the Match Todd Scotland in the vanguard, they attacked incessantly for the third quarter retaining possession well and varying their lines of attack. Chiltern's defence was though unyielding and the scoring opportunities few and far between. Will Hodgson, playing in the centre, looked to have scored from a tap penalty but the referee ruled otherwise. Generally it was one way traffic and when the hosts did break out good tackles from Ben O'Hickey and Tom Younie prevented scores.
Chiltern seemed to have weathered the storm but with fifteen minutes left Jake Duffield, who had only been on the field five minutes, intercepted on halfway and outstripped the defence, converting the try himself. That was as close as it got though, and hard as they tried increasingly play was focussed in the Vikings' half. Five minutes after Duffield's score Dan Kingsley was driven over from a lineout for Chiltern's bonus point try and close to time a Jack penalty completed the scoring.
James Brooks was quite sanguine afterwards commending his team's efforts against one of the League's leading sides, observing that Chiltern scored at key times and a Vikings try early in the second half could have led to a different result.
Team: 15.Ben O'Hickey14.Tom Younie13.Dan Smith12.Will Hodgson
11.Jim Riley10.Mike Braans 9.Lee Thomson1.Lachlan Brown-Bates2.Will Swart3.Dane Canning4.Ryan Oakes5.Todd Scotland 6.Ed Sampson
7 Chris Godwin8.Roydon Miller
Acky Downing/ Canning (53 mins)
Tom Knight/ Sampson (57 mins)
Jake Duffield/ Smith (59 mins)
Canning/Brown - Bates (68 mins)
Yellow Cards: Swart
Referee: Ollie Dalton (Gloucester)