Gravesend 21 v 40 Chichester
Chichester returned to winning ways after the defeat to Cobham last time out.
Chichester took to the road following their poor performance against Cobham knowing that a positive response would be needed to keep pressure on the sides at the top of the league.
The Blues set off to Gravesend a side that Chichester have played up and down the leagues for many many years and have always proved to be a massive test. The team showed several changes with a couple more injuries picked up against Cobham and skipper Jack Bentall and the influential fly half Richard Adams unavailable. The Blues were delighted to see the return of Nick Blount and Ryan Boulton in the second row and Aaron Davies at No. 6. Jack Hamilton-Fox made his first start on the wing and Toby Golds stepped up onto the bench. Strength in depth would now be tested with 11 of the 18 having been in the 2nd XV only 4 weeks ago.
The pitch was in excellent condition and the dark clouds stayed away as the Blues started brightly with quick hands and the forwards surging forward. Aaron Davies hit a great line off Anscombe to breach the Gs' defence. The power and pace was in evidence as he tore away to get the early score under the posts. Anscombe slotted the extras. 0 - 7. The Blues were building the phases well and retaining possession with the lineout providing good ball. Anscombe used the wind excellently to punch play deep into the black and white territory and good follow up tackling forced the knock on and an attacking scrum. Johnson who has been a power house all season smashed the opposition back row aside to score. 0 - 14. Gravesend now started to dig in with their 12 and left wing Okenla looking dangerous and the home forwards looking to mix it up front. The Blues, after such a strong start, stepped off somewhat and the home side started to build field position eventually muscling their way over with an excellent conversion from out wide. 7 - 14 and game definitely on. However the next 20 mins saw the Blues really clicking into gear with a great mixture of forward power and strong carrying alongside some nice lines from Robson and Lynch in the centres, aided by some delightful kicking from fly half Anscombe. Chichester scored three excellent tries the first from open side Wallace after a powerful driving maul, the second after a sublime off load from big lock Blount giving Nat Jackson the outside line, with the right winger scorching, past the defence and the third encapsulated the attacking prowess of the Blues. Jack Hamilton-Fox coming off his wing and breaking superbly thought the middle, quick ruck ball and full back Tom Hutchin entering the line superbly to give the Blues a 7 - 33 lead. With the half closing down the Blues started to get too carried away and were guilty of forcing the pass with two very speculative off loads. The ball bounced back to Gs who showed if Chichester gave them possession they would be very dangerous, scoring between the up rights. Half time 14 - 33.
The Blues would now have to show their mettle playing against the wind and up the slope. Chichester held the upper hand but were not having it all their own way. The lineout was creaking slightly and the black and whites lifted their level in front of a decent home crowd. The Blues didn’t get the rub of the decisions and had to show real resolve to stop Gs getting back into the match. Hamilton-Fox was forced to leave the field after being driven somewhat dangerously into the ground head first and replacement back row Alex Grace picked up a nasty looking elbow injury. Despite the changes the Blues still kept their structure with Anscombe having an excellent game at 10 pulling the strings well. A beautiful timed run from Robson cut the defence open and the lovely hands from Lynch released wing Nat Jackson who stepped and left his winger for dead with a searing run outside. As the defence scrambled across Golds hit a good supporting line to score under the posts. 14 - 40. Gs dug in grimly and indeed had the better of the last 10 minutes with a well taken try down the middle highlighting that if you didn’t close them down the home side offered some genuine attacking threat. 21 - 40. Gravesend searched hard for the bonus point try keeping it tight and driving robustly. However, Chichester lifted their energy to defend well with tight head Joe Woods leading things well from the coalface. Final Score 21 - 40.
Paul Colley, Director of Rugby "There were real glimpses today of what we are capable of and given the amount of changes this was a very decent team performance, but there are still some areas Scott will want to look at. A good effort but we are not getting carried away and we will need to improve as the season progresses."
Chichester squad: Sam Drayson, Tom Belcher, Joe Woods, Nick Bount, Ryan Boulton, Aaron Davies, Charlie Wallace, Chris Johnson (capt.), Harry Seaman, Henry Anscombe, Jack Hamilton-Fox, Adrian Lynch, Ben Robson, Nat Jackson, Tom Hutchin, Ollie Charlish, Alex Grace and Toby Golds.