RAMS’ Director of Rugby Seb Reynolds paid tribute to neighbours Chinnor after his side fought back from a 19-7 deficit to claim a thrilling 29-19 triumph under the Friday Night Lights.
The visitors made a storming start and went 14-0 up as Tom Price converted tries from Alun Walker and Izzy Wharton, Rams getting on the board with one of their own as Dan Swain burrowed over before Fraser Honey lasered a tough kick through on the right.
However, Morgan Passman’s score five minutes into the second period gave Nick Easter’s side control, only for Rams to rally in spectacular fashion.
Rams v Chinnor Pictures: Paul Clark
Axel Kalling-Smith first bagged a brace and following a penalty try and an Ollie Monye cracker at the death, the hosts had two bonus-points from two.
“It was a very good game of rugby, Chinnor came out of the blocks with all guns firing and our discipline cost us,” said Reynolds.
“We coughed up field position and let a dangerous side into good areas which they capitalised on.
“I thought they would be like that. It’s the second week of the season, they’ve got high aspirations with plenty of ex-professionals and there was no way they were going to come here and roll over.
“There was an expectation they should win if you look at their side, but we battled through, stuck together and had a quiet confidence we could come back and give ourselves a shot, which was what we did, so I’m very pleased.”
He continued: “I always felt we looked threatening, on the counter-attack, in phase-play, and I believed it would come, but credit to Chinnor it only came late on.
“We got there in the end, there’s lots to look at, but also lots to enjoy from a good evening.”
Two-try Kalling-Smith was the star of the show in front of another superb crowd, but the DoR admitted things could have worked out differently.
He added: “We were looking at bringing Zach on and then Axel popped up with two tries. There was no way we could take him off as he was looking for a hat-trick so when Ellis got cramp it made it easier.
“You want to get Zach on because he’s so dangerous, but the back three were electric all night, a real threat, so it was a big positive.”
Along with Clow, there was real impetus added from the bench in the form of props Ant Marris and James Baker, who along with flanker Ben Atkins, helped the scrum take real ascendancy as the game went on.
Indeed, a set-piece won against the head forced a penalty which led to the kick to the corner from which seven points were harvested with a first penalty try since 2021.
Reynolds continued: “The two props came on with the energy of Ollie Monye, but they had to capitalise on the work which had gone before, the graft and effort the guys had put in.
“Ant and James brought control to the game, you know you can release pressure in a moment and it’s what they’ve done throughout their careers. It let us put the ball in the corner and then the game came.
“It’s great to have ‘Penny’ back on the board, but it was complimented with some super transitional play.”
While the game clashed with the opening of the World Cup, and was also live-streamed with an audience of more than 2,500, the Old Bath Road attendance was again high, the DoR praised the supporters.
He said: “There was talk about whether we’d do it on the Friday or Saturday, but when we turned up, we knew Friday was the one.
“The crowd were electric, got into the game, support for both teams and when you look in the players’ eyes, they just love the Friday Night buzz.
“There’s a glint, you know it’s what they want and it works for them – and they all deserve it.
“Early on the noise wasn’t quite there, but coming down towards the clubhouse later on, everyone loaded up in the corner and the players fed off it.
“The crowd is growing and growing and growing and it’s because they’re seeing top-quality rugby the way we believe it should be played, local players from around the area who are giving it their all and we are so thankful for everyone coming along.”
Rams visit Sedgley Park this Saturday (2.30pm).