Chiefs blushes spared

An Ashley Cooper try in injury time saved the Chiefs' blushes in this annual Boxing Day match in which the good holiday crowd were treated to a dramatic last quarter.

An Ashley Cooper try in injury time saved the Chiefs' blushes in this annual Boxing Day match in which the good holiday crowd were treated to a dramatic last quarter.Tom Whelan kicked off for the Chiefs in perfect, if slightly cold, conditions. Both sides took a while to cast off the effects of the festive celebrations and the opening exchanges were rather scrappy. Understandably, it was the Chiefs who settled first against the scratch side. With the scrum going forward and some powerful driving by the forwards they enjoyed territorial advantage without threatening the President's XV line. Eventually they managed to find enough continuity to stretch the defence, moving the ball wide to the right and then to the left. A half break by Whelan produced a ruck five metres out and Jack Pyne picked up and drove over for the opening score which Whelan converted on the half hour.The President's XV found some cohesion and dominated the closing stages of the half but could not find a way through the Chiefs' defence. The score remained 7-0 at half time.The President's XV continued to have the better of things after the restart. A mobile pack of forwards did not let the Chiefs' eight settle and fly half James O'Brien put in some probing kicks to test the cover defence. It was against the run of play that the Chiefs increased their lead. A dropped pass by the President's backs set the ball loose and it was hacked on upfield into the 22 where the full back was caught in possession and the ball was turned over at the resulting ruck. Quick passing along the backline gave Ashley Cooper an overlap to score in the right corner. The try was unconverted.It looked as if they had increased the lead almost immediately when a missed touch finder was run back and a surging run by Ollie Pyne took play into the 22 where he found support. Three passes later Callum Hill dived for the line but lost possession as he went to touch down.The introduction of replacements seemed to upset the Chiefs' cohesion in the middle of the half and the President's XV got on top. With 10 minutes to go a long period of pressure caused the Chiefs to run out of defenders and Jonathan Raistrick was on the end of an overlap to score in the left corner. James O'Brien converted from the touchline.The President's XV now had their tails up and more pressure caused the Chiefs to concede a five metre scrum in front of their posts. With space on either side they went right and a probing run by O'Brien drew two defenders. His pass found Sam Bartlett in space on the wing and he scored in the corner to level the scores. The conversion was unsuccessful.The Chiefs had one last throw of the dice and, when they were awarded a scrum in the opposing 22, the referee indicated that the next whistle would signal the end of the game. Tom Whelan lined up a drop goal attempt but it was charged down. Ashley Cooper covered to scoop up the loose ball and dummied his way through the chasing defenders to score wide out on the left. Whelan's conversion was followed by the final whistle.

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