CHELMSFORD turned the form book upside down with a terrific win against promotion-seeking Saffron Walden at Coronation Park.
With Ipswich winning at Holt this meant they had been crowned champions, even though they still have one game left to play, against local opposition South Woodham Ferrers on April 26.
Saffron Walden started off confidently and Chelmsford soon found themselves 6 – 0 down from penalties. Against the run of play, Chelmsford scored a well-taken try when centre Ollie Wright fed full back Jamie Ash, to score behind the posts.
With fly half Simon Hoult converting the try, Chelmsford took a 7 – 6 lead. Just a few minutes later they scored an unconverted try from a driving maul to regain the lead 11 – 7. Substitute Rhys Whitelock sped away from the cover defence to score a great try in the right hand corner for the home side to regain the lead at 12 – 11.
A quick tap penalty saw Saffron Walden regain the lead with a converted try. Prop Phil De Champ was then yellow carded for not retiring 10m after another quick tap penalty and, just before the half time whistle, a catch and drive from a line out resulted in another try taking the visitors to a half time lead of 23 - 12.
The second half was only two minutes old when Chelmsford centre Olly Wright picked up a loose ball and had a clear run to the line with Simon Hoult converting.
Chelmsford then gave away a penalty for not rolling away at the ruck. Chelmsford levelled the scores at 26 points each, when Olly Wright weaved his way over for his second try. They then scored two tries in ten minutes.
The first came from a line out and a converted try was scored by the posts, taking the home side into a 33 – 26 lead. Then prop Phil De Champ picked up a loose ball and went over for an unopposed try. The score was now 38 – 26. At this stage Saffron Walden were throwing caution to the wind and they scored a try in the left hand corner, thus reducing the lead to 38 – 31.
Chelmsford managed to hang on for the last few minutes and record a well-deserved win in an exciting and enthralling game.