Thurrock 20 v 10 Chichester
Chichester made the long trip to Thurrock with 8 changes to the team that beat Gravesend the week before.
Chichester made the long trip to Thurrock on another wet day with a plethora of forced changes to the team that beat Gravesend the week before. Most of the changes were due to unavailability with some of the injured players slowly coming back into contention. Chris Johnson, the powerful No.8, making the trip on the bench following injury was a very positive sign. Débuts were made by Fin Bamber at No.9, Jack Green on the wing and Ed Hounsel at fullback. Fin Bamber was one of four teenagers in the side and Chichester were grateful to Westbourne House School for allowing the Colt time off from his duties to cover such a crucial position.
Delays en route meant preparation was not ideal but the Blues started extremely well, completely dominating the first 15 minutes. Excellent hands and a nice chip through from Robson put the home team under pressure but the set piece faltered at crucial times with errors at both lineout and scrum in very good attacking positions. A quarter of the match gone and 0 - 0. Thurrock slowly came back into the game as if sensing the Blues were not quite on their game. With some front foot ball Thurrock slowly gained field position and after a series of good drives got the opening score. 7 - 0. After half an hour the Blues started to get back into the game. With Blount dominating the lineout big Jon Lindsay powered over from the back of a well worked drive. Conversion missed. 7 - 5. The Blues made occasional forays with Ben Robson showing his recent excellent form with some barnstorming runs but try as they might the Blues could not finish off any of the chances they created. 7 - 5 at half time with everything to play for.
Chichester came out after the break knowing that if they could execute the plays they would get a real foothold in the game. After 5 minutes disaster struck and fly half Lynch was yellow carded very harshly for a marginal high tackle. Chichester held on only conceding a penalty whilst down to 14 players. 10 - 5. Just before Blues returned to a full complement a strong counter attack caught the home side beyond the offside line, but the ball was spilt out wide and from deep inside their own half Thurrock fly half hacked through and the bounce favoured the home team bouncing up into the flying right winger’s hands. The despairing Blues’ defence couldn’t get back. 17 - 5. Chichester had to really dig in and young Fin Bamber made a couple of great tackles to stem the tide. Blues lifted the tempo and when they got set piece ball looked dangerous with Robson, Renwick and Golds all going on good runs. With 20 minutes to go Chris Johnson made his long-awaited return. Immediately his power, along with Declan Johnson’s consistent carrying, started to turn the game the Blues’ way. With 10 minutes to go Chris Johnson smashed through to get Chichester’s second try. 17 - 10. Thurrock won a critical penalty which they slotted meaning Blues had to score twice. They pounded the Thurrock line with a mixture of power and good hands and looked like they might snatch it at the death. However, Thurrock threw everything at Chichester to hold on for a crucial victory that provided them with a little more distance from the bottom 3. Full time. 20 - 10.
Paul Colley, Director of Rugby - “A long and tough day. We probably didn’t quite play to our level but even with the changes we created some real opportunities. It wasn’t our day today.”
Next week the 1st XV take a well needed break from league action before returning to Oaklands Park on 17th of February against Chobham.
Chichester squad: Prior, Arden-Brown, Drayson, Lindsay, Blount, Charlish, Wallace (capt.), D.Johnson, Bamber, Lynch, Golds, Robson, Renwick, Green, Hounsel, Bentley, C.Johnson and Margarson.