Old Albanian Saints played hosts to a tough physical Chesham side at the weekend. Games like these can go either way, the early exchanges did nothing to dispel the notion.
The visitors started well and disrupted the Saints at every opportunity, causing some errors and an early penalty or two. After several broken down attacks it became obvious that the home side were forcing the game, even in the early stages.
Saints started to gain some control in patches threatening the Chesham 22m but struggled to finish. Either a long afternoon was ahead or a shot of luck would break this deadlock.
Chesham, aiming to clear their lines had a kick charged down by Openside Barnes, who gathered the loose ball and powered through a disjointed Chesham defence to ground the ball. Unusually the extras were just missed 5-0 Saints.
The restart saw the home side find an extra gear and some of the play in the Chesham half was reminiscent of recent weeks, after several line breaks and off loads Saints were awarded a penalty, Robertson adding the 3 points, 8-0 Saints.
Now the away side were rattled and a period of sustained pressure led to a couple of penalties against the Saints, allowing Chesham the chance to break in to the home sides half, eventually after a few drives the Chesham pack had grabbed a score, extras missed, 8-5 Saints.
A few direct lines and physical play by No 8 Allcorn gave Saints the go forward for her to score out wide score after some good continuity between forwards and backs. Difficult conversion was missed, 13-5 Saints.
A physical Chesham side were relentless, causing problems for the home team, who struggled to break them down, then up popped King for a score to create some breathing space and allow the Saints to relax and focus.
This time the extras were added by Robertson 20-5 Saints led at the half.
Half time, the message was clear, remain calm, don’t force the pass or play, better decisions were called for and a shut out demanded by the Head Coach.
Second half started brighter for the Saints as they spent most of the half playing close to the Chesham 22, some inaccuracies were still apparent but opportunities were being created.
After some fast hands and good running lines breaking the gain line, a powerful ruck dominated by the Saints 6 meters out from the Chesham line, lead to debutant Boyle diving over from close range to extend the lead further, extras added, 27-5 Saints.
A scrappy 20 mins followed with neither team taking hold of the game. Saints backrow stepped, finding gaps and getting behind Chesham, although sometimes the support did not follow and chances were wasted.
Outside centre King, set the backs away and some nice hands led to King breaking through and scoring. Extras added 34-5 Saints.
The clock was running down fast. Lock Bebbington saw an opportunity and went on the charge, breaking a couple of tired tackles and using her power step before sliding the ball out to the supporting Allcorn who finished off the move.
Extras were missed 39-5, Saints at the whistle.
Head Coach Brown said “We were not our fluent selves today, some positional changes affected that, along with some tweaks being developed in training. Plus we blooded 3 new players today, along with giving others more minutes. Typically our lineout was effective with good options called, the scrum was tighter and more cohesive. The squad worked hard today against a tough Chesham side and performed well in stages. We need to get back to delivering full performance for 80 minutes, the games get tougher in the coming weeks”.