CHINNOR delivered one of their best all-round performances of the season to record an historic win over Bishop’s Stortford.
The Oxfordshire side had lost all five of their previous games at Silver Leys, but impressed on a bitingly cold January afternoon to leave Hertfordshire with five points.
Hooker Nick Selway scored a hat-trick of tries, with captain Jason Worrall also crossing and Caolan Ryan kicking ten points.
Chinnor were superior in all areas of the pitch, with the forwards creating a superb platform for the backs, causing Stortford all kinds of problems.
The win has moved the Thame-based side back up to fourth in National League 1 and 11 points behind leaders Richmond, who edged second-placed Rams.
Chinnor are now also five points clear of the teams below them following Darlington Mowden Park’s loss at Cinderford and Blackheath’s game being postponed.
The visitors headed into the contest determined to bounce back from last Friday’s narrow defeat at home to Rams.
Director of rugby Matt Williams made four changes, handing Ryan, who has been predominantly used as a full-back this season, his first start at fly-half in the 2019/20 campaign, while Selway, Josh McNulty and Joe Dancer returned to the XV.
Stortford are known for their expansive style and looked to play the ball quickly through hands to unleash their pacey wingers.
The hosts opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Chinnor were penalised at a ruck following a line-out and scrum-half Al Gliksten caught the visitors out with a tap and go to cross. The scrum-half was unable to convert his own try as the home side led 5-0.
Chinnor had already looked strong in the set-piece and would not have been too alarmed by going behind.
Just six minutes after conceding, they went 7-5 in front. Selway found Dancer at a lineout five metres out and latched on the back as the pack drove towards the line before the hooker plunged over, Ryan converting.
Stortford were straight back on the attack and retook the lead on 27 minutes when George Keen combined with Josh Stannard for Tom Lewis to go over for an unconverted try out wide.
Chinnor were only three points behind, though, and went on to dominate the rest of the half.
Another driving lineout saw Selway just short of the try-line, but the ball was quickly recycled across the pitch and Will Harries sent Worrall diving over in the corner for his 13th score of the season on 31 minutes. Ryan brilliantly converted from the touchline to make it 14-10.
Stortford were no match for Chinnor at scrum-time and another penalty gave Ryan the opportunity to kick for the corner at the end of the half.
Again Selway was accurate and the visitors found themselves retreating and turning, before the hooker attacked on the blindside and plunged over for an unconverted try to make it 19-10.
Chinnor had been impressive and were good value for their nine-point lead, which was extended within ten minutes of the second period when they secured the four-try bonus point.
Once again, the visitors’ lineout proved unstoppable and Selway completed his hat-trick to make it 11 tries for the season.
Although Stortford crossed the whitewash on 53 minutes, Mike Ayrton’s effort was disallowed, while the hosts were unable to make the most of any further territory they did enjoy.
Chinnor thought they had scored their fifth try just after the hour, but they were denied what would have been one of the scores of the season when Harries, who had jinked through three tackles, had been adjudged to pass the ball forward to Worrall.
Instead they settled for three points and Ryan’s 69th minute penalty meant the hosts needed three tries.
Stortford continued to go wide as quickly as possible and Harries made a fine tackle to deny Austin Pope, but the full-back was subsequently sin-binned. The hosts took advantage of the extra man, with Sam Winter crossing, George Cullen converting, to reduce the deficit to ten points with nine minutes to go.
But there was no need for Chinnor to panic and another Ryan penalty ensured a comfortable final few minutes as the visitors left Silver Leys with five points.
Bishop’s Stortford: Hankin, Stannard, Winter, Keen, Ayrton, Cullen, Banks, Castiglione, King, Brownhill, Thacker, Lewis, Wilson, Elsom, Kingham.
Reps: Petty, Ball, Gliksten, McCrone, Pope.
Chinnor: Harries, Worrall, Yawayawa, Laverick, Hodson, C Ryan, Hoadley, Parilli-Ocampo, Selway, McNulty, Ramshaw, Dancer, Tyas, Kirwan, W Ryan.
Reps: Pieterse, Fidler, Treviranus, Marley, May.