Colchester 30 v 24 Chichester
Chichester made their third and final visit of the season to Essex looking for a bonus point win, in the fight for survival. Match report by Roger Gould.
Chichester are almost certainly relegated after what seemed to be a winning try in the last minute was disallowed. Only an extremely unlikely failure by Sutton and Epsom to beat Amersham and Chiltern in their last match could save the Blues and that also assumes the latter will win at home against Westcombe Park. With Southend and Guildford both winning with bonus points, they sealed Chichester's fate. It was an open, end to end game at Colchester and the margin was small, 4 tries, 2 conversions and 2 penalties to 4 tries and 2 conversions. Chichester emerged with two bonus points but they had succumbed to another fightback by determined opponents in a second half. This time they lost a 19 - 15 lead at the interval.
Chichester were without Taff Davies and Sam Renwick and had to make positional changes. Just to prove that lightning can strike twice, they were shocked to find the same difficult young referee from their previous match was again in charge. Colchester kicked off in lovely weather and went ahead within two minutes, good handling across their backs put right winger Chamberlain-Carter over at the corner. Conversion missed. 5 - 0. Chris Johnson had his first run and the referee got going with 3 penalties and arm waving against Chichester. One was taken from the tee and converted by Crozier 8 - 0. Jack Bentall announced himself with a big tackle and Jack Maslen intercepted a pass and ran from half way to score at the posts. Henry Anscombe converted. From broken play Colchester’s No.8 Whiteman jinked too easily past a groping defence to score with conversion by Crozier. 15 - 7. Phil Dickin had to depart with a neck injury, replaced by Ross Miller and Bentall moving into the pack. An excellent bout of passing by Bentall, Johnson, Danny Gray and Aaron Davies gave the ball to Ben Robson who evaded the last tackle and went around the posts for Anscombe to convert. 15 - 14 to Colchester. After 30 minutes Chichester were awarded their first penalty. A lineout and maul took the Blues to 5 metres out. Johnson picked up from back of the scrum and touched down but the referee said no and brought play back. Another strong attack with Gray, Richard Adams and Phil Veltom thrusting gave the chance to Maslen to use his body swerve and score at the right corner. A good conversion attempt narrowly missed. 15 - 19. Colchester replied with a dangerous attack and a drop kick which went wide. Chichester were in the lead at the break but they had to expect Colchester to hit back hard.
The yellow cards began soon after restart. Miller went to the bin in midfield for something mysterious unless it was for the team. Colchester backs attacked with good hands but knocked on in the tackle. Veltom charged out of the 22 and fed Anscombe who sprinted to the opposite 22 but a knock on ruined a good chance. Colchester now received their first yellow card for a pull-down at a lineout. Chichester pressed on the left flank with driving maul and another sin binning for Colchester for either offside or in at the side, nothing was ever clear by word of mouth. Johnson could not be stopped and he went across for the bonus point try. Conversion well wide. 15 - 24. As against Guildford, Chichester soon found that their opponents were not giving up and Colchester stepped up to the plate. Miller returned but Colchester were still a man down. Surprisingly they started to play better and get on top despite the handicap. Crozier kicked another penalty and an attack along the left wing beat poor tackles, resulting in a try for inside centre Liversidge and another two points for the conversion. Colchester up on the see-saw. 25 - 24. Yet another penalty against Chichester and fly half Higgins sent a high kick to the left corner. That man Crozier was up to beat Adams to the catch and touch down. Conversion missed. 30 - 24. Chichester tried desperately to retrieve the situation. Harry Seaman was stopped on the left wing but the forwards drove hard across the front of the posts. Two drives put them between the uprights and there was great rejoicing as Davies pressed down for the try in the last minute. Disbelief followed when the unsighted referee ruled held up, but he insisted. Chichester took the scrum and were about to push over when they were penalised and Colchester kicked the ball out for the end of the game. Enquiry by the Chichester coach Rob Lawrence after the game revealed the referee had seen the ball strike a hand as it was heeled to the back row. Surely a scrum reset, not a penalty? I made the penalty total in this game was 17 against Chichester and 7 against Colchester. Full time and 30 - 24.
Chichester squad: Belcher, Arden-Brown, Veltom, Blount, Dickin, Davies, Wallace, Johnson, Anscombe, Gray, Seaman, Bentall (capt.), Maslen Robson, Adams, Deavall, Shepherd and Miller.
Chichester's final game is on April 22nd at home against Westcombe Park. Kick off 3 p.m.
Footnote. The referee may not have read my previous constructive comment about his attitude to players. I must repeat he shows no empathy and must try to do more to advise them on technical requirements which seem to preoccupy him.