Canterbury always knew that this encounter with high-flying Chinnor would be tough, having narrowly defeated the title contenders at the Marine Travel Ground back in November.
Unfortunately since that time injuries have taken their toll on the Canterbury backs with players stepping up from the Pilgrims to shore up the defence.
It was this defence that was a positive factor for the city side who stood firm to upset and frustrate a physical home team who have benefited from key additions to their playing strength since that last meeting.
Canterbury had to defend their lines during the opening quarter and any early relief from Chinnor pressure was often squandered by mistakes.
However it was the city club who opened the scoring with a break from defence by Jonathan Jones and an offload to scrum half Kyan Braithwaite who in turn released Kieran Thompson for a try converted by Tom Best.
A reply came minutes later with Chinnor capitalising on a strong run from winger Henry Lamont. He was bundled into touch but a lineout that went wrong and a Chinnor scrum saw their Number Eight Alastair Bone crash over from the base. Lamont, with a clever run, set up Luke Peters who put his side ahead on 22 minutes with a try converted by Jon Bentley and it was a lead they never lost.
Canterbury had their chances but before half time prop Jay Tyak had bullocked over and Bentley’s conversion made it 19-7 at the break. Neither side fully took control in the early stages of the second half but a resilient city defence was eventually broken by centre Charles Broughton’s try.
With Tom Best injured in this passage of play and having lost Guy Hilton midway through the first half the Canterbury back line was re-shuffled with Jamie Dowkes making his debut. Despite the enforced changes it wasn’t until the final quarter that the home side cemented the win with further tries from Dan Barnes and the experienced Bentley during a period when Canterbury’s Jimmy Green was sin binned for a technical offence.
When they were restored to full numbers their never say die attitude saw replacement Glynn Edwards cross from a catch and drive line out, converted by Will Hilton.
A further converted Chinnor try ended the home side’s scoring account but it was Canterbury back row man Hugh McCormick-Huston, playing in the unaccustomed position of centre, who had the last word.
He collected a deft chip kick to cross the Chinnor line, Hilton converted, but an elusive, bonus point fourth try eluded a city side who were far from outclassed.
Canterbury: J.Jones, G.Hilton (repl W.Hilton), F.Morgan, W.Farris, (repl L.Woodbridge),K.Thompson, (rep S.Rogers), T.Best (repl J.Dowkes), K.Braithwaite, A.Cooper, C.Townley, S.Keny, L.Woodbridge (rep G.Edwards), R.Cadman, M.Cantwell, S.Rogers (repl H.MccOrmick-Houston), G.Micans
Report by Chris Fullbrook
Pictures supplied by Phillipa Hilton.