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RUGBY UNION: Promotion joy for Chinnor
Chinnor 19, Tonbridge Juddians 8
A MONUMENTAL team effort saw Chinnor earn promotion to National 2 South at a wet and very windy Kingsey Road.
The unpleasant weather could not dampen their celebrations at the end of an excellent season.
Having defended superbly against the wind in the first half, they came on strong with a 16-point blitz that knocked the stuffing out of Tonbridge Juddians.
Chinnor opted to face the strong wind after winning the toss and were immediately under pressure.
They had No 8 Liam Gilbert sin-binned on seven minutes, but still managed to hold out.
Tonbridge battered the Chinnor line and were held up at one point, but crucially, all they had to show from the first half was a 3-0 lead.
If anyone doubted Chinnor were up for this, you only had to witness the first scrum, which saw them demolish Juddians, who had the put-in.
Skipper Joe Winpenny and his front-row colleagues had towering games, while centre Matt Goode led the backs with some inspirational carries and runs.
Fly half James Cathcart kicked with unerring accuracy from long-range, but every Chinnor man played their part as the team rose to the occasion.
Because the wind was so strong, kicking clear proved hazardous and much of Chinnor best first-half play came from pick-and-drives and mauling.
Juddians went close through No 8 Tom Nabbs and were held up with Gilbert in the bin, but they had to make do with a 14th-minute penalty from centre and captain Charlie Harding.
Such was the ferocity of Chinnor’s defence that Tonbridge seemed to run out of ideas.
Harding missed a second penalty, but the hosts were beginning to threaten.
Two attacks showed what they could do, with Goode, centre Sam Stoop and wing Mark Chase looking sharp.
The strength of the wind was illustrated by a Tonbridge 22-drop-out that went into touch inside Chinnor’s 22.
Chase and Gilbert probed away before Cathcart saw a speculative penalty cause havoc as it held up in the wind – his only miss of the match.
A minute into the second period, Cathcart stroked over a penalty from near halfway and the momentum was well and truly with Chinnor.
Cathcart struck again three minutes later after Tonbridge replacement prop Carl Ambrose was yellow carded.
A huge scrum earned Cathcart a third shot at goal and he did not disappoint.
Chinnor’s purple patch reached its zenith when full back Henry Colver launched a counter attack and some slick handling ended with Chase going over on the left.
Cathcart converted and Chinnor looked in control.
Tonbridge, however, had not won three straight promotions without showing plenty of skill and spirit.
And back they came as Chinnor took their foot off the gas.
Full back John Tabrett bagged a superb solo try down the blindside on 63 minutes to give them renewed hope.
Chinnor regrouped well and maintained their discipline, finishing the stronger after Cathcart’s 75th-minute penalty.
Chinnor: Colver, Seymour (Gray 78), Goode, Stoop, Chase, Cathcart, Jones, Winpenny (capt) (Stock 75), Tattersall, Pickett (Whelan 65), Mowbray (Harrison 65), Smith, Jackman, Waddingham, Gilbert.
Referee: G Dickens (Midlands).