SEB Reynolds paid tribute to the ‘heart’ of his Rams side after they won a fascinating National One encounter 21-17 under the Friday night lights at Chinnor, writes Richard Ashton.

In a pulsating derby played in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters, Rams opened up a 21-3 lead early in the second period before having to weather a furious comeback from their hosts.#

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With the tension palpable round the ground as Rams were penalised at the scrum late on, the outstanding Ollie Taylor stole the resultant line-out on the visitors’ own five-metre line to ensure a seventh straight victory and a position temporarily at the top of the table.

And Reynolds said: “This is not a group of players which has been up in the Premiership or the Championship, it’s just a group of lads who stick together and who have been through a lot together.

Their heart adds the extra ingredient to their ability.

“I think both sides put on a show for all the supporters who came out and watched the game. In fairness it was Chinnor’s idea, and we went with it because we thought it was a great chance for people to come out on a Friday night and watch National One rugby – I think it’s some of the best rugby you’ll see in the country played by guys from their home towns.

“A lot of the chat (in the build-up) was about the battle of the scrums, but we wanted to play some rugby and change the point of attack and some of our tempo in the first half was brilliant. We were playing some really brave rugby and attacking from our own line so we’re not just a scrummage team, we can do other things now and again.”

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The home side had earlier taken a seventh-minute lead courtesy of a Laurence May penalty, only for Rams to hit back through their forwards with Ben Henderson eventually crashing over from close range, Will Partington adding the extras.

The visitors controlled the remainder of the half, albeit Chinnor still looked dangerous, and they extended their lead shortly before the break when an overthrown home line-out was gobbled up by Rams. After a powerful drive, Tom Vooght was able to dot down for his side’s second score, Partington again converting.

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Chinnor rallied at the end of the opening 40 minutes, but a wayward line-out throw on the visitors’ five-metre line enabled them to escape with a 14-3 half-time lead.

Things got even better for Rams four minutes into the second half when Vooght went over, but their Oxfordshire opponents responded with gusto and ran in two quick-fire converted tries through Jason Worrall and James Tyas to reduce the arrears to four points with half an hour remaining.

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The remainder of the game ebbed and flowed, both sides spurning scoring opportunities, but while Chinnor had the better of territory and possession, they could not break Rams spirit and the visitors completed a memorable and dramatic double over their rivals.

Reflecting on the way the hosts hit back in the second period, Reynolds said: “Credit to Chinnor, the way they came back was fantastic and some of their attacking play was very, very good. But our guys just don’t stop.

“Good players and good teams will come back and we always knew if we got in front they would come back at us. At this level if you just drop off for a second and open the door for the opposition they’ll get back in the game rather than just coming back at you for five minutes, and Chinnor did that.

“Their ambitious season was on the line and they came back at us hard, but our guys just dug in.

We’ve got a really special group of players who just do not stop fighting. They just will not stop for each other and they just keep going and huge credit to Ollie Taylor at the end to steal the line-out and secure the game for the lads.”

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With many of the bumper crowd having made the trip to support the visitors, Reynolds also had a word of thanks to his side’s fans.

He stated: “Our supporters came out and it was really loud and brilliant to see – what an occasion.

"They’re enjoying the occasions and playing new teams, playing on a Friday night, watching good rugby and watching a group of lads from the local area do something pretty cool this year.

“We’re punching well above our weight and it’s surprised us, but the effort and work-rate the guys put in and the support we got was brilliant.”

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Things get no easier for Rams next Saturday as they take on one of the other top-three sides, Richmond, at Old Bath Road, but Reynolds is relishing another potential cracker.

He concluded: “It should be good. We’re always looking at improvements and development so we’ll have a look at how to approach the game. Richmond are a very good side who play some good rugby, so it’s a tough game and we’ll see how we go.”

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