Bury St Edmunds 34
It came down to just one kick, one penalty proving the difference between being the undefeated National 2 South leaders and sixth place.
Chinnor travelled to a sub-zero Haberden on Saturday looking to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games, while Bury aimed to bounce back from two defeats in their last three fixtures.
But the home side, despite running their opponents close, fell to a narrow defeat in the thrilling encounter, which saw 11 tries scored.
And it was the Wolfpack who tipped the try-scoring scales, with six tries to their name — but four missed conversions and two penalties conceded at key times ultimately led to defeat.
Head coach Ollie Smith acknowledged the quality of the game, praising his side’s valiant attempt, while also admitting the result effectively ended his team’s ambition hopes for the season.
But, with a further tough fixture away at second-placed Cinderford (2.30pm) tomorrow, Smith knows there is still plenty left to play for in the league.
He said the remainder of the season is an opportunity for the players to build on their consistency in games.
“Of course there’s a risk we will lose momentum with nothing left to play for this season, but I don’t actually mind the defeats,” he added.
“I’m pretty confident we will also win some games along the way after all. So what it’s about seeing, for me, is the right attitude and mentality.
“If you can pick yourself up and throw your body on the line in games that, ultimately, don’t really matter, it becomes second-nature and you will also be able to do it consistently in the games when they do matter also.
“So we’ll be working on developing the players individually as well as the overall team.
“It’s not going to be a wasted 15 or so games by any means.”
He was upbeat, despite watching his charges lose two games on the bounce, as he expressed his delight at the ‘great effort’ from his players.
He said: “I thought the guys put in a great effort. It was so tight and one moment was all that separated us in the end.
“And if Liam (McBride) had kicked his goals, that would have helped, we missed God knows how many.
“It does show how important conversions are though.
“But it was never going to be a game where kicking was the tactic, it was always going to be a try-scoring game so it’s only in hindsight you can say ‘we should have kicked that’.
“Our aim was to score tries, that was our game plan. Unfortunately our plan fell a little short but there’s a reason they are top of the table.
“Fair play to them, it looks like they’ll go up at the end of the year.
“On the flip side, it shows we really aren’t that far off that level and sometimes all it takes is a bit of a mindset change on how best to approach a game.
“And it isn’t the first game Chinnor have won narrowly this season either, and that’s a lesson — always doing just enough to take the win.
“One of the standout things about Chinnor is how well structured and organised they are.
“As a coach I know how hard that is to achieve —we decided to just play and see what they could actually do.
“And they proved they have enough to win a game of rugby on our turf against a team that played pretty well.
“We upped our game and it was a really good game to watch. It was exciting with both sides having opportunities to win it.
“So we go to Cinderford on Saturday and just keep going. It hasn’t been the run we had hoped for but we’ve still taken a lot from the games, we’ve scored plenty of tries.”
Dwayne Corcoran got a hat-trick of tries against Chinnor, while Matt Edison went over twice and the sixth try came from the referee’s whistle.
And Yasin Browne was picked out of the pack for the man of the match honours, for his persistent carries and robust tackling.
But it was the visitors who punched first, with nine minutes gone, to spark worry among the Wolfpack.
Their lead didn’t last long, however, as the referee awarded Bury a penalty try for obstruction after 12 minutes.
A Chinnor, Bury and then further Chinnor try left the score at 19-12 at half-time in a pulsating game full of action.
Two tries, one converted, for the Wolfpack in the second half gave the home side the lead for a short time before a resurgent Chinnor hit back with a penalty and two tries —to end up 34-24 ahead.
But, in a game where the momentum yo-yoed between the sides, Bury replied with two tries to level the score at 34 points apiece with almost 10 minutes left.
And it was Bury who looked the more likely to nick a result, with Chinnor resisting wave after wave of attacks.
But the result came down to one bad playing decision, as the Wolfpack were penalised for coming in to the side of a driving maul, that ended the exhilarating game of rugby with the narrowest of defeats..