Chichester 27 v 41 Cobham
After their Lord Mayor's Show last week, Chichester's winning bubble was burst in dramatic fashion. Match report by Roger Gould.
After their Lord Mayor's Show last week, Chichester's winning bubble was burst in dramatic fashion. As they did in 2014, Cobham beat them by using fast and effective counter attacks against a vulnerable defence in open play. Chi had much more possession and territory but their tackling was poor and the visitors took full advantage, 3 of their tries coming from Route 1 breaks. They were inspired by experienced players Luke Flower and Tom Farrelly, the latter kicking 16 points. Chi took the lead early in the second half by playing to their strengths in the forwards and they should have continued to keep it very tight, but the became adventurous again and Cobham fed on their mistakes. A hard lesson but tactically Chi got it wrong. Final margin 5 converted tries and 2 penalties to 4 tries, 2 conversions and a penalty. Blues slipped to third place in the league.
Chi were weakened by absences but young players Sam Drayson at prop and Ollie Charlish at flanker were able to make debuts. There was a good start with Chris Johnson, Drayson and Jack Bentall driving forward and winger Nat Jackson tackled into touch. First mistake with a spilt ball and a gap exploited. Richard Adams got back to tackle but the offload was good to fly half Flower on the shoulder who scored around the posts. Easily converted. A long kick by Henry Anscombe gave a lineout and drive maul but the visitors resisted and a lofted kick to the right wing by Adams went too far. Anscombe ran 30 metres but was tackled as he dived across and knocked on. Chi pressed again and from the back of a solid scrum the ball was passed out to left winger Ben Robson for a try at corner. Big conversion by Anscombe. 7 - 7. Cobham attacked but knocked on for Chi to clear. Simon Pinhorne's lineout catch and smooth handling by the backs nearly brought a try by Adams. A penalty was awarded for a prior offence and Anscombe made it 10 - 7. Then a bad mistake when Cobham's drop out was messed up by Chi, and with some quick passes Cobham steamed through the middle for lock Van Der Ploeg to touch down behind the posts. Converted. Robson was away with a long run but he was brought down just short as Cobham covered well. A Chi penalty to Vultures corner once more, efficient drive lineout and Charlie Wallace scored. A second excellent conversion by Anscombe. 17 - 14. Full back Tom Hutchin made a very good clearance to touch but a Cobham scrum moved the ball across left for another far too easy break through the centre and a try for Clements by the posts. Converted. To add salt to the wound, Chi went offside at a Cobham scrum and the penalty was slotted. 17 - 24 at the interval in a see-saw game so far.
Blues meant business. Strong attacks were launched with Bentall, Wallace, Martin O'Callaghan and Johnson in the forefront. A huge defensive effort by Cobham held up Johnson over the line. But from the 5 metres scrum, Wallace took a pass to crash over. Conversion looked over but was ruled out. 22 - 24. Chi pressure continued with Tom Belcher and Phil Veltom breaking tackles but a knock on spoilt things. Two more knock ons wasted chances. O'Callaghan had a useful gallop which brought a penalty from 40 metres which was missed. Cobham continued to tackle hard but were unable to hold the Chi lineout and drive over by Belcher. Conversion missed. 27 - 24. It seemed that Blues would now win the contest but there was always the lurking danger and Cobham showed their determination. Good handling by the backs and a kick to the right wing found Chi all at sea and from a cut inside, Flower crossed the try line and conversion was added. Chi were frustrated and although Adams tried another long kick to get back to the Cobham corner it went long for a Cobham drop out. The Surrey men now had their tails up.A deliberate knock on by Chi gave another successful penalty and with the score 27 - 34 and 5 minutes left Chi could only expect a losing bonus to add to their try bonus. But even that was snatched from them. A kick over the top by Cobham meant a race to the line by Anscombe and his opposite number which the Chi man won but a cruel bounce of the ball took it away from him into the gleeful hands of Saunders to score. Conversion and deserved win 41 - 27 for the impressive Cobham.
Next week Chi travel to Kent to play Gravesend, kick off 14:30. All support welcome as Chi try to recover from this disappointment.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Belcher, Veltom, O'Callaghan, Pinhorne Charlish, Wallace, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Robson, Bentall (capt), Lynch, Jackson, Hutchin, Woods, Wilcock and Seaman.