This was my first level 11, merit league game so I wanted to focus on the pointers from last week, particularly positioning. The first difference I have noticed from higher graded matches is that both teams are out warming up well before kick-off, no stranglers still on the way! The home side were adamant that only the permitted 5 subs are to be used which is reasonable considering the effect seen in my last match.
Thankful the notoriously boggy Chobham pitch was dry with lines on this visit and the home side chose to play uphill. The visitors started well and enjoyed clear dominance of territory and possession yet some how managed to end the half two tries down thanks to tenacious defence from the home side. Indeed, after some ruck handling and going off feet, Chobham were facing a yellow card and penalty try, the next phase they managed to clear the ball legally.
The visitor's best chance came as a cross field kick was caught in-goal by the oppo, but I pondered as the cross-kick had sailed between the posts; drop goal or not? Since it wasn't attempted as a drop goal it wasn't drop-kicked and it was penalty advantage anyway. Unfortunately, the visitors failed to capitalised on the pivot move they tried and the tide turned against them in the second half.
Running down the hill with decent, quick ball, the Chobham centres cut loose, clearly playing below their potential they rarely failed to make good ground and the home side ran in five unanswered tries in the second half.
Comedy moment of the match came as the home winger, a slightly built gentleman, followed up the kick, fielded by the oppo flanker, but failed to bring down the flanker or let go, the flanker proceed up the field, ball in one hand and winger in the other!
Ugly moments include the difficulties at the scrum with setting the distance and early engagement, feedback was that they didn't like my cadence on the touch-pause-engage. More unsavoury was yellow card for a retaliatory shoe following some post-tackle niggle, there wasn't enough malice to justify anything more harsh and neither did the tone of the game.
A more challenging match than the week before, the new laws didn't make too much of an impact and positive feed back from two decent teams.