Chichester 39 v 15 Amersham & Chiltern
Chichester made short work of obtaining the required bonus point win, but Amersham & Chiltern fought back gallantly and outscored the Blues 7 - 5 in the second half. Match report by Roger Gould.
Chichester made short work of obtaining the required bonus point win, scoring 4 tries in 30 minutes and adding another before the interval. But Chiltern fought back gallantly and actually won the second half 7 - 5. Chiltern are now relegated, Colchester almost sure to join them, and the third casualty to be either Southend, Guildford or the Blues. The last 4 games will be nail biting.
Before the game the Chichester Minis, Juniors and the two 1st XVs stood together on the pitch for silence in memory of Mary Phillips, a wonderful worker for the rugby club over more than 40 years. Chichester were without Taff Davies, so Henry Anscombe was at fly half with the kicking duties. Phil Veltom returned and young Ryan Jeram was to make his debut from the bench.
After a penalty success for Anscombe and Chiltern's fly half Fluker, Blues were quickly into their stride and attacked for the rest of the first half with forwards and backs linking smartly to produce flowing rugby. The scrum was stronger than the visitors and the lineout secure. Ben Robson galloped along the left wing, Anscombe dinked perfectly to the corner and Jack Bentall touched down. Conversion missed, 8 - 3. From a scrum Bentall was now in the back row, picked up and charged through with a high pass to the onrushing Chris Johnson to smash over. Converted by Anscombe. His long kicks to touch were a feature and Jack Maslen showed similar ability into the corners. From a lineout on the right, a penalty scrum option was taken from 5 metres and Johnson was again unstoppable. Anscombe converted. 22 - 3. Sam Renwick, Robson and Johnson took the ball into the 22 and from another scrum Renwick took a quick pass and sprinted across. Converted. For only the second time in 35 minutes, Chiltern got out of their own half. Anscombe received a yellow card for a silly offence, Chiltern advanced to the home 22 and kicked over the top. Robson won the race to the in-goal area but was wrong footed by the cruellest of bounces and Aremu got the touchdown. Conversion missed. Just before the whistle Chichester attacked in great force, the ball whistled across and the very strong Aaron Davies came racing to join the line and crashed over tackles for the 5th try, conversion narrowly missed by Maslen. 34 - 8 and game over, but the pep talk did wonders for the Chiltern players.
Ben Polhill had pulled a hamstring and Jeram and the other replacements were on. Maslen impressed again with a snaky run and a useful kick over the top. Chichester were restored to 15 men but not for long as Veltom was given a team yellow card for ground offences. Chichester paid the price as they were pushed onto the back foot and Chiltern took over for a long period. Rolling replacements did not help and Chiltern pressed with pick and goes to finally penetrate and Wood scoring their second try, converted by Fluker. 34 - 15. It was Chichester’s turn to struggle as Chiltern became increasingly confident with their scrum and lineout now on top. Chichester tackled hard and somehow weathered the storm. Nick Blount and Veltom made ground and a promising backs move ended with a knock on. Chichester had the final say with fine handling by Phil DIckin, Jak Evans, Jack Arden-Brown and Bentall. Evans started the move for the last try sending Robson on a good run before tackled out at Vultures Corner. A driving maul was controlled and Davies went over. 39 - 15. A scintillating exchange of passes between Renwick and Harry Seaman from half way just failed when a firm tackle stopped Renwick just in time. Chichester had played well enough but yellow cards can be fatal in their mission to stay up.
Chichester squad: Deavall, Arden-Brown, Veltom, Blount, Dickin, Davies, Polhill, Johnson, Evans, Anscombe, Robson, Bentall (capt.), Renwick, Seaman, Maslen, Jeram, Shepherd and Miller.
Next week is the climax of the RBS Six Nations. Chichester return to action on 25th March away to high-flying Wimbledon.