Havant 38 v 12 Chichester
Havant fully avenged their September defeat and moved above Chichester in the league. Match report by Roger Gould.
Havant fully avenged their September defeat and outplayed Chichester in the second half. Chi contributed to their own downfall by missing three try chances when they were in the lead and then after the break earning two yellow cards. In the 20 minutes they were down to 14 men, they conceded 20 points to their fired-up hosts. To add to their grief, Blues suffered two injuries to both their captain and vice-captain. Havant played well and despite some mistakes scored 5 tries, 3 penalties and 2 conversions to 2 tries and a conversion.
Chi were without Chris Johnson and Sam Renwick who were sorely missed. It was a very cold day but a large crowd had assembled to see which team deserved to occupy third place in the league. The pitch was reasonable despite recent wet weather. Chi went off to their usual good start with their forwards driving strongly. Fly half Adrian Lynch broke through and the ball reached winger Ben Robson who was nearly over. From a few metres the pack mauled across and prop Joe Woods pressed down. Tom Hutchin landed the conversion from near the touchline. 0 - 7 after just 3 minutes. The ball was spilt at the back of a Chi scrum and Havant gained a penalty which was kicked from 30 metres by captain Joel Knight. 3 - 7. The Blues lineout was working well with Nick Blount and Aaron Davies catching and disrupting. The scrum also looked stronger. Flanker Charlie Wallace made a half break and from a Havant error Chi pressed on their 22. A penalty for a late tackle on Hutchin put them to the right corner. But two lineouts were lost with a drive across almost guaranteed, and then from a 5 metre scrum in the same place the ball somehow squirted out on the blindside and Havant snatched it and cleared. This was the turning point in the game on 25 minutes. Havant got going and attacked. Slick handling from the Chi 22 gave powerful hooker Trail his chance to break a tackle and run under the posts from 15 metres. Converted by Knight. 10 - 7. Then Chi held on at a breakdown and Knight slotted the penalty from fully 40 metres. Havant kicked to the right wing but the ball was dropped almost on the try line. The referee blew for the break after a long period of added time. 13 - 7 in Havant’s favour and all to play for.
Chi continued with lineouts and drives as Havant gave away penalties but they also gifted back by breakdown offences. A long kick to the left wing by Lynch just failed to find his winger and a promising backs move was spoilt by one bad pass. Havant were stopped by firm defence but Robson was guilty of a tip-tackle which injured full back Chambers. In the short fracas which followed, Wallace was knocked out by a nasty blow to the head. He and Chambers were replaced and Robson sent to the sin bin. Havant seized their big chance immediately. They collected a poor Chi clearance kick on the 22 and spread the ball to the left wing for Brierley to score from a final pass. 18 - 7. Three minutes later they repeated the dose with intricate passing and a “crossing” which fooled everyone. Lock Janes touched down. Converted by Knight. 25 - 7. Blues were all over the place in defence but to their credit they attacked again and forwards and backs worked hard to breach the stout home rearguard. From six recycling phases they won a lineout and a good controlled drive sent Dane Gingell diving into the left corner. 25 - 12. Havant surged back with forwards delivering quick ball and supporters urging them on. The backs found the overlap on the left flank again and Bamford scored the bonus point try. 30 - 12. Sadly, Jack Bentall had been injured in the centre and was replaced. Chi were on their way to a try from a lineout but were penalised for “truck and trailer”. Havant made a bad mistake 10 metres from their try line but Chi were not together enough to make them pay. Havant tried to take a tap penalty but Chi prop Will Prior did not retreat and tackled. He was given a yellow card and Chi were down to 14 again. Knight made no mistake with his third penalty success. 33 - 12. The final nail in the coffin was in added time when Havant raced once more out wide and overcame flimsy tackles for a last score by Warrington. The whistle blew after a 48 minute half. 38 - 12. Knight had a great game and was clearly Man of the Match with his vision, distribution and accurate kicking.
Chichester will want to forget this one but discipline must be top of the training agenda. Next week they are at home to second place CS Rugby. In view of injuries and unavailability it will be a tall order for Chi to complete a double against them. So all support most welcome. Kick off 2pm.
Chichester squad: Belcher, Gingell, Woods, Blount, O’Callaghan, Davies, Wallace, Lee, Seaman, Lynch, Hopkins, Bentall (capt.), Wilcock, Robson, Hutchin, Prior, Boulton and Hamilton-Fox.