London Cornish 20 v 20 Chichester
A small and hardy crowd watched an entertaining game played in bitterly cold conditions.
Chichester made their first ever visit to the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields, in south west London, to take on London Cornish in the match rearranged from the 3rd of March. The game kicked off at 12:30 in bitterly cold conditions but, despite snow showers earlier in the morning, the pitch was in very good condition. However, the match, with its late drama, kept the hardy supporters entertained with honours even at the end. A draw was a fair result with Chichester scoring 3 tries, 1 conversion and 1 penalty to London Cornish’s 2 converted tries and 2 penalties.
Chichester made eight changes to the team that beat Brighton last time out with Sam Drayson, Jon Lindsay, Ollie Charlish, Ben Polhill and new boy Will Maxfield joining the pack. Cameron Hopkins returned on the wing, after a hamstring injury, with Dane Gingell and Russ Watmore on the bench.
After only 5 minutes London Cornish infringed with Chichester attacking their try line and the referee awarded a penalty try and produced a yellow card. 0 - 7. Despite being a man down it only took London Cornish a further 5 minutes to respond with their prop crashing over close to posts. Converted 7 - 7. Both teams struggled to control the ball and the next 20 minutes were punctuated with handling errors and wind affected lineout throws. After 34 minutes London Cornish made the break though with their winger intercepting the ball on the half way line and touching down under the posts. Converted 14 - 7. Chichester responded in the final minutes of the half but were unable to capitalise on their possession. Half time and a 12 minute break for the players in the warmth of the changing rooms!
As the teams took to the pitch for the second half a slight shift in wind direction seemed to favour Chichester. They started where they had left off and, after 18 phases, Jack Hamilton-Fox was stopped a metre short of the try line. Sam Drayson picked up the ball and dived over to score. Conversion missed. 14 - 12. London Cornish’s response was immediate catching Chichester offside in their 22. The penalty kick was good. 17 - 12. A few minutes later and London Cornish were penalised for holding. The Chichester penalty kick sailed between the posts. 17 - 15. After 66 minutes London Cornish were once again reduced to 14 men and Chichester took full advantage. An attack saw Chichester arrive at the same spot as their previous try and new boy Will Maxfield dived through a tiring Cornish defence to touch down. Conversion missed. 17 - 20 and Chi back in the lead for the first time in an hour. Chichester went to a kicking game in an attempt to keep London Cornish in their own half. A penalty was conceded and the London Cornish fly half attempted a mighty kick from just inside his own half, which just dipped below the crossbar. However, the opposition weren’t to be denied and with 2 minutes left to play they were awarded a penalty on the 10 metre line. This kick was in range! 20 - 20. Chichester held on for the final 2 minutes and the game ended with a long range drop goal attempt from London Cornish that went wide. Final score 20 - 20 and 2 points each. A fair result.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Arden-Brown, Maxfield, Pinhorne, Lindsey, Charlish, Wallace (capt.), Polhill, Seaman, Lynch, Hopkins, Robson, Renwick, Hamilton-Fox, Golds, Gingell, Whatmore and Bentall.
Next week Chichester make the first of three journeys to Kent, in their final 4 games, to play Medway who have been knocked off top spot in the league after defeats to CS Rugby and Havant.