Westcombe Park 22 v 15 Chichester
Chichester left Kent on Saturday evening having reminded Westcombe Park that life in London 1 South won't be easy!
Chichester travelled to Goddington Dene on Saturday afternoon to start the 2018/19 campaign away to Westcombe Park, who were relegated at the end of last season. With the retirement of Jack Bentall and Jack Arden-Brown the side was captained by Charlie Wallace with Dane Gingell coming at hooker. Ben Polhill started his 22nd season in the 1st XV as blindside flanker. The sun was shining and with a light wind conditions were excellent for rugby.
Early exchanges were fairly even with Chichester surviving a scare when a clearance kick on their 22 was charged down. The subsequent attack broke down with a knock on, much to the relief of the Blues. 8 minutes into the match Combe's scrum half left the field with a dislocated elbow - we wish him a speedy recovery. From the first scrum of the afternoon Coombe applied pressure and advanced, winning a penalty for an infringement in easy kicking range. 3 - 0. Chichester reacted positively and on the quarter hour mark won a lineout in the Coombe half. The ball was passed swiftly along the line and a powerful run from Ben Robson breached the opposition defence for a try. Converted. 3 - 7. As the half progressed the Blues grew in confidence and had Coombe trapped in their own half, for an extended period, giving away penalties. With Coombe defending their try line, what seemed a certain try, was thrown away with a rushed move by Chichester, allowing the home team to clear their lines. With 4 minutes of the half left a Coombe maul set up a well timed break and offload for their stand-in scrum half to touch down and convert. 10 - 7. Half time.
Coombe came out of the traps quickly, looking to increase their lead. With 43 minutes on the clock the left winger broke through the Chichester defence and was stopped short, but the ball was recycled quickly for a simple score adjacent the posts. Converted. 17 - 7. Shortly afterwards Chichester infringed at the breakdown providing Coombe with the opportunity to extend their lead. However, good fortune was once again with the Blues as the ball bounced off the crossbar and was cleared to safety. It was Coombe's turn to concede a penalty at a ruck, which Jack Martin stroked between the uprights. 17 - 10. The Coombe response was instantaneous with the left winger once again involved, cutting through Chichester's line, to supply a simple ball for the try. Conversion missed. 22 - 10. Chichester increased the tempo looking for a way through the well organised Coombe defense. Despite conceding a number of penalties Coombe held firm until a well worked move across the pitch put Alex Taylor in at the corner, for Chichester's second try. Conversion missed. 22 - 15 and 14 minutes left. Chichester continued to exert pressure and spent several minutes in the Coombe 22 looking for a chink in their defence. Finally, after a series of rucks, close to the try line, John Lindsay broke through and crossed the whitewash but the referee was well placed and confirmed that the ball had been held up. A chance to level the score had gone and Coombe were relieved to kick the ball into touch to end the game.
Both management teams will draw positives from this first match of the season. It was particularly encouraging to see some of Chi's recent Colts in the team. The return match is the season finale in 31 weeks time!
Chichester squad: Prior, Gingell, Woods, O'Callaghan, Taylor, Polhill, Wallace (Captain), Johnson, Goodwin, McLagan, Hutchin, Thompson, Robson, Norton, Seaman, Maxfield, Lindsay and Martin.
Next Saturday (8th of September) Chichester entertain Tottonians at Oaklands Park. Kick-off is at 15:00 and there is a pre-match "pie and a pint" lunch from 13:00.