Chichester 31 v 37 Guildford
Guildford completed a terrific comeback, scoring 27 points without reply in the last 22 minutes, to win a bewildering see-saw game. Match report by Roger Gould.
Guildford completed a terrific comeback to win a bewildering see-saw game. They had been 10 - 31 behind but scored 27 points without reply in the last 22 minutes! They were greatly helped by Chichester having only 14 men due to a harsh yellow card. The visitors prospered from their forwards strength, especially their lineout and mauling work. Chichester had a very good 35 minutes before and after the interval when they cruised into their big lead but then lost the plot and the referee contributed to their downfall. He needs to think about his lack of communication to the Chichester players and that sometimes hand signals are not enough when guidance is necessary. Also giving yellow cards for technical offences well away from the red zone. It was all very disappointing for the Blues and with Southend winning in the last minute at Hertford, Chichester are staring relegation in the face. They will have to win their last two games to have any chance of survival. They came away from this crucial encounter with just two bonus points. Both teams scored 5 tries and 3 conversions but the Surrey men also kicked 2 penalties.
Chichester were without Nick Blount, replaced by Martin O'Callaghan. Taff Davies returned at full back and Danny Gray was at inside centre. Guildford kicked off in sunshine and had most of the possession and territory for 25 minutes. A penalty hit the post and two more gave a lineout at the left corner. Quick service to the scrum half who shot through a gap to score a converted try. They wheeled a scrum in midfield, the ball squirted out and prop Phil Veltom kicked into touch from an offside position. He was promptly sin binned. Guildford's backs showed their recycling skill as they attacked and Chichester defended well. Chichester finally got onto the front foot with Harry Seaman, Sam Renwick, Taff Davies and Jack Arden-Brown passing briskly. A penalty, lineout and two driving mauls resulted in a try for Veltom, converted by Taff Davies. Guildford replied with a successful penalty. 7 - 10. From another lineout, Richard Adams, Chris Johnson and Davies handled smartly with a last pass to Jack Maslen to score a fine try at the right corner. Conversion missed. 12 - 10. Just before the break a thrust by Johnson from a scrum was held but another drive gave Henry Anscombe the chance to dive over, the conversion missing narrowly from the touchline. 17 - 10 to Chichester after a varied 40 minutes.
Ben Robson came on as a replacement and scored with his first touch. Gray and Renwick had made ground and from the left corner lineout Johnson and Veltom smashed to the line, the ball released to Robson who took it at top speed on a good line for the bonus point try. Converted by Davies. 24 - 10. Play was even for 15 minutes but there were ominous signs that Guildford's driving maul was revving up. Chichester attacked along the right touchline with Phi Dickin prominent at the lineout. A penalty and a drive to the line saw O'Callaghan thump the ball down for the fifth try, converted by Davies. 31 - 10. With 20 minutes gone the game was turned upside down. Guildford engaged their driving maul tactics together with increasing dominance at the lineout. Their scrum had the nudge on Chichester 20 metres out and loose head prop Ben Deavall was yellow carded although the scrum had not collapsed. All hell then broke loose as Guildford were fired up and stormed forward with mauls from half way, strong shoves in scrums, reliable lineout ball and good handling by their backs. Chichester could not get to grips with the mauls. Three tries were scored from short range using lineouts and mauls with extra strength due to the yellow card disruption in the Chichester forwards. Two conversions made it 31 - 29 to Chichester. Then another disaster soon after being back up to strength, they were returned to 14 men when Adams was yellow carded for a high tackle. A tackle to the head of Gray soon after went unpunished. Guildford kicked a fairly easy penalty after Chichester had defended hard but possibly went offside. 32 - 31 to the visitors. Chichester attacked for the last time but the recycling broke down at a tackle and they were penalised once more. A final flowing move across the Guildford backs was the nail in the Blues coffin as the inevitable overlap gave an unconverted try in the left corner. 31 - 37. Congratulations to Guildford on their quite amazing recovery. Their scorers were Hickey (2), Burden, Hooper and Garner. Hooper kicked 12 points.
Chichester squad: Belcher, Arden-Brown, Veltom, O'Callaghan, Dickin, A.Davies, Bentall (capt.), Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Seaman, Gray, Renwick, Maslen, O.Davies, Deavall, Shepherd and Robson.
Next week Chichester take the long road to Colchester. Hopefully they can pick themselves up from this setback and they know what is at stake.