Chichester 20 v 12 Westcombe Park
Chichester won their last game in National 3 in style, playing with obvious team spirit, completely dominating the second half and denying Westcombe Park a 3rd place league finish. Match report by Roger Gould.
Chichester won their last game in National 3 in style, playing with obvious team spirit and completely dominating the second half. They avenged their one point loss in the away meeting and their 3rd place visitors competed but were outplayed. Predictably Sutton beat Amersham and Chiltern so Chichester are relegated. In previous seasons 47 league points would have been enough to stay up but this season it has been very close between all good teams. If Blues hold together and play as well as they have in several matches, they will be a strong force in London and South East 1.
On a lovely sunny day the pitch was bone hard. Chichester welcomed back fit veteran Tim Cook at outside centre, Jack Maslen moved to full back and Ross Miller started on the left wing.
For 10 minutes the exchanges were fast and furious and the referee had a calm word with the captains after some robust tackles by both sides. Chris Johnson and Phil Dickin led an attack to the corner, linked with Charlie Wallace to spread the ball and won a penalty which Henry Anscombe converted. 3 - 0. Coombe now attacked and showed their mobility and Maslen saved from a dangerous high kick. He then went on a good sprint, passing to Ben Robson to show his boot power. The battle of the pack warmed up and it was even in scrums and lineouts, Aaron Davies and Nick Blount reaching for the sky. A fine break in the centre by Coombe and quick hands sent lock O'Sullivan over for the first try, but conversion missed. 3 - 5. Chichester replied with forwards and backs combining and holding passes to build the pressure. A penalty to Vultures corner, lineout and drive put Davies across and down which is his speciality. Conversion missed from wide out. 8 - 5. Within 2 minutes Coombe went ahead again when a Chichester clearance kick was charged down and carried forward for prop Stanford to score. Conversion by Charlie Edwards, one of two brothers playing alongside one another. 8 - 12. Robson almost broke through from the drop out and then tackled to stop a Coombe thrust. A lineout and drive by Chichester was held and a knock on ended another. 8 - 12 at the break.
Coombe had one attack before they were driven onto the back foot and where they stayed. Chichester turned the screw and got on top in the tight, giving plenty of possession to hungry backs. Their driving mauls succeeded and Johnson and Phil Veltom almost got to the try line. Maslen threatened with a mazy run but a pass to the winger found touch instead. The Coombe defence buckled from the force of Johnson, Veltom, Tom Belcher and Jack Bentall and Dickin rounded off good handling by diving over for Chichester's second try. Converted by Anscombe. 15 - 12. Soon after Harry Seaman body swerved and offloaded to Wallace to show his pace. Bentall charged up, took the pass and hurtled through tackles to go over at the right corner flag. The excellent referee took a few seconds to look and decided the ball was grounded. The conversion by Anscombe drifted just wide. 20 - 12. The remainder of the game took place in the Coombe half but Chichester were unable to add more points from their possession. One exciting attack featured a Blount lineout catch and a break from half way with Johnson, Sean Shepherd and Belcher at great speed for big men. Chichester declined a second easy penalty to go for the corner and Miller and Davies went close before Coombe kicked clear. Sadly just before the end Seaman left the pitch with a wrist injury to add to the knee injury suffered by Ben Deavall in the first half. Best wishes to them and also Rhys Thompson and Alex Grace who suffered serious injuries during the season. We hope to see them back in due course.
Chichester beat three top six teams at Oaklands Park. it was their poor away form which let them down. They earned 16 bonus points, 7 of which came from lost games. They can be optimistic.
Chichester squad: Deavall, Shepherd, Veltom, Blount, Davies, Dickin, Wallace, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Miller, Bentall (capt.), Cook, Robson, Maslen, Belcher, Arden-Brown and Seaman.