RUGBY: Chippenham 44 Oxford Harlequins 14
CHIPPENHAM started 2013 with another bold attacking performance to put their struggling National Three South West visitors to the sword at Allington Field on Saturday.
The home side strengthened their position in the top half of the table with a seven-try performance, flanker Frazer Clilverd and wing Ryan Surry both touching down twice.
Harlequins arrived just one place off the bottom of the table, but were by no means lambs to the slaughter, their pack occasionally getting the upper hand in a see-saw battle with their opposite numbers.
Chippenham though, were far more clinical out wide, with some fine handling helping to pick their way through a competitive Quins defence.
A breathless start saw neither side able to capitalise on promising attacking positions, but the hosts grabbed the lead as full-back Sam Saunders landed a 30m penalty from in front of the posts on six minutes.
Oxford still looked dangerous at this stage, but ultimately the first-half damage they suffered was largely self-inflicted.
Surry crossed for his opener on nine minutes, reading a telegraphed wide pass from Quins fly-half Will Hilton and strolling in under the posts from 70 metres untouched, Saunders converting.
Ironically, it was while pushing for the second try that the home side coughed up possession for Oxford’s response.
After winning a scrum against the head, Chippenham spilled the ball underneath their opponents’ posts and wing Pete Haiatokoua galloped up the touchline. The retreating Saunders scragged him a yard or two short of the line, but the ball popped up for centre Luke Evans to touch down.
Hilton landed a fine conversion and both sides were reduced to 14 men on 20 minutes after a flare-up resulted in Quins’ Matt Edney and Chippenham lock Mat Bye being sin-binned by referee Devon Simon Lane – the latter inexplicably as he appeared to not be involved.
Oxford attacked again, but were this time picked off by home centre Gary Champion, who went clear and offloaded to midfield partner Rupert Crockett to steamroller of the line.
Saunders added the extras and three minutes before the interval the third try arrived as Bobby Lyons found Surry, who chipped up the line allowing skipper Lyons to drop on the ball.
Two tries within five minutes of the restart ended the match as a contest, the first arriving somewhat fortuitously as fly-half Harry Taylor’s miscued kick to touch bounced infield. Surry robbed his opposite number and Crockett continued the move before finding Clilverd with a deft scoring pass.
Three minutes later, Saunders broke into Oxford territory and as a ruck was formed, scrum-half Lewis Surry intelligently chipped into space for his brother to gather and score his second, Saunders converting.
The final half-hour was a scrappy affair, several; minutes of Oxford pressure coming to nothing against a rock-solid home defence before both teams finished with a flourish.
First, home flanker John Boddington dotted down as the pack rumbled over from a lineout drive, Saunders adding the extras, then Quins hit back through full-back Harrold Whittington, Hilton with the conversion.
Finally, more good hands saw Crockett chip ahead for Clilverd to gather and go over out wide.
REACTION & PICTURES FROM ALLINGTON FIELD IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND MORE RUGBY REPORTS & PICTURES IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES