Brighton 38 v 26 Chichester
Although Chichester lost to a good Brighton team, they did rather better than expected in view of their very serious selection problems. Match report by Roger Gould
Although Chichester lost to a good Brighton team, they did rather better than expected in view of their very serious selection problems. They earned a bonus point for their 4 tries and were in sight of a possible draw result before the home team scored in the last minutes. Harry Seaman scored a hat trick of tries in the first half. However, Brighton were faster in the backs and with excellent support play were able to create several overlaps on the wings. They were very keen to reclaim Sussex bragging rights after two defeats by Chi four seasons ago and on this occasion deserved to win. The margin was 6 tries and 4 conversions to 4 tries and 3 conversions (one of which was automatic from a penalty try).
Chichester have a very worrying player crisis. On this day they had 7 missing due to injuries and 5 more were unavailable. In Jack Bentall’s absence, the ageless Ben Polhill was recalled to captain the side, his first appearance in his 21st season for the club. Lock Callum Gibson, No.8 Declan Johnson and inside centre Eddie Jenkinson made debuts. Veteran Tim Cook came in at outside centre and Toby Golds slid onto the bench. Adrian Lynch moved to fly half and Tom Hutchin to full back.
It was chilly on the high terrace and the pitch was soft after rain. Both teams observed a minute of silence for Remembrance Day.
Chi made a rare bad start,conceding a try after 2 minutes. They lost the ball in midfield, Brighton full back Morris gathered and scorched 50 metres, outflanking everyone and straightening to score a fine try under the posts. Converted by fly half Tegelaars. Soon after they sent the ball out from a lineout and a high kick to the right wing led to the winger Winsloe winning a race to touch down at the corner. Converted, 12 - 0. Chi were shocked and their supporters fearful. Touch kicks for lineouts followed mostly from penalties given by a demanding referee. Chi had only one jumper but it was the very competent Nick Blount who was to catch all the Chichester throws. Brighton took their equal share without competition. The hosts were nearly across again but forced out. Chi got going and Seaman delivered two long range penalties, the second into the right corner. The lineout drive was stopped illegally and Seaman took a quick tap penalty and dived over the line. Converted by Hutchin. 12 - 7. Another penalty to touch followed, the forwards drove with Polhill leading. Close passing found Seaman who threw a big dummy and then snaked past a tackle to score 10 metres left of the upright. Conversion missed, 12 - 12. Chi advanced again with some confidence restored but gave away another penalty. As Brighton came back and drove steadily up the left touchline, Chi were penalised three times for infringements on the ground. Brighton seized their chance and slick passes by the backs sent Tegelaars on an arcing run to touch down under the posts and convert his own try. 19 - 12. Just before the break, a Blount salmon leap put the Chi backs on the front foot and they gained a penalty. Seaman kicked into the left corner for a strong drive and he pounced again to score his third try. For someone who is powerfully built his wriggling skill is special. Converted by Hutchin. Half time 19 - 19 and all to play for, but Brighton had a distinct edge in the scrums and their backs were looking too hot to handle.
The next score was very important and the home team got it. Fast handling by their backs gave an overlap try to the left winger despite the last pass looking forward. He rounded the posts for a simple conversion. 26 - 19 to Brighton. The Chi forwards were working hard and Tom Belcher was in the thick of things. They drove for good position and the whole team went through several phases trying to penetrate a stubborn defence. Cook almost burst through but was well tackled. Grayson broke a tackle but was hauled down with 5 metres to go. Finally the pick and go was held up just short of the try line. A penalty was awarded to the defenders and Seaman was sent to the sin bin. This proved to be Chi’s last big chance. Brighton hit back and although Chi defended hard against a driving maul on their 22 the support play put a flanker over at the right corner flag and round to the posts. Converted, 33 - 19. Chichester refused to accept defeat and they were at last in charge of the scrums. They pushed their opponents back over the try line, Brighton collapsed it and the penalty try was conceded for 7 points. 33 - 26. Chi tried one more attack but Brighton countered and with excellent passing they scored their final try out wide again. Chi were disappointed but they had done their best in the circumstances. 38 - 26 and full time.
A rest next week when we hope as many players as possible will be ready for selection to play the league leaders Medway who have won all their games. November 25th at Oaklands Park, kick off 2:30. Should be a cracker!
Chichester squad: Belcher, Gingell, Woods, Gibson, Blount, O’Callaghan, Polhill (capt.), D.Johnson, Seaman, Lynch, Hillyer, Jenkinson, Cook, Heber, Hutchin, Drayson, Charlish and Golds.