Chingford prevailed 12-0 against a technically superior Upminster in a close contest, combining grit, determination and a refusal to concede, with two moments of brilliance, one individual the other a team move to decide the match between fierce title rivals in this friendly.
Having shot themselves in the foot with a slow start in their previous meeting earlier this season, Chingford were prepared for a fast start by a the visitors and the game quickly settled into a midfield battle of attrition where neither side was able to take control. Poor rucking and scrummaging by Chingford was offset by committed and fearless tackling. The deadlock was broken after 15 minutes when one half of the fearsome Chingford Centres combination, William Mays, singlehandedly took the initiative to score a stunning 30 metre try, using his pace, power and skill to scorch through the Upminster defence to open the scoring for the home team, which was duly converted by the nerveless accuracy of Connor Hurst’s boot. Upminster responded with their usual determination and pressed the hosts deep back into their 22 for long periods. But the hosts’ trademark defending epitomised by Gage Chandler-Moss, Ethan Penfold and Bobby Edwards kept the visitors at arm’s length and they eventually managed to break free of the pressure and made progress towards the Upminster line. Late pressure in the half nearly resulted in Chingford Captain Andreas Constantinou, extending the home sides’ lead but the ball was held up over the line and Upminster managed to survive, keeping the score to 7-0 at halftime.
For the 2nd half Chingford bought on man mountain Calum Smith to try and bring some stability to the Scrum although the game continued in the same vein as the 1st with neither side dominating but with Chingford holding the advantage there was more urgency to the Upminster attacks which sometimes left them overcommitting and leaving themselves vulnerable to quick counter attacks. Only splendid play by the Upminster full back prevented Chingford extending their lead. But after absorbing the pressure Chingford broke out midway through the half and stretched the visitors defence to breaking point with a beautiful team move from one side of the pitch to the other and back again leaving the other half of the Chingford Centres partnership, Josh Oranu-Noah to break through the overstretched Upminster defence to increase the home side’s lead to 12-0. Upminster not being the type of club to take this type of scoreline lying down redoubled their efforts to find a way back into the game but although dominating territory and possession simply were unable to break through and the commitment and refusal to lay down from both teams led to several confrontations between opponents which threaten to boil over and the game ended as it had continued most of the afternoon with Upminster banging their head against the impregnable brick wall of the Chingford defence.
So a hard fought and morale boosting result against tough title rivals ahead of the make or break game next week against Sudbury and while the defence and commitment were total the usually reliable rucking and scrummaging were not up to the high standards expected by the coaching team and two moments of excellence made the difference between the teams. At his usual post match press conference coach Lawrence Macrides said “The boys have come a long way in the past 12 months, and the fact that they beat such a good team without dominating speaks volumes for their progress, but the next 12 months will bring bigger challenges and the lads will have to up their game accordingly. Every Chingford player showed total commitment and several boys had outstanding games but I must single out William Mays who put in a complete performance and his try capped a man of the match display”