Thurrock 32 v 31 Chichester
A very positive performance from the Blues.
Chichester took to the road for the long trip to Essex to play Thurrock, looking to bounce back after a disappointing result against Brighton the week before. However, given losing 2 of the starting front row on the morning of the game against Brighton there were some encouraging signs in that match that highlighted Chichester were not far away from putting in the type of performance needed win at this level.
Sam Drayson and Dane Gingell returned to the front row and Martin O`Callaghan and Jon Lindsay to the second row, giving the front five a much more solid look about them. The game kicked off in dry but very windy conditions and the Blues were immediately on the front foot with the forwards carrying hard. Chris Johnson made one of his wrecking ball runs and quick ball sent the backs away. The scrum was working very well and was really starting to get on top of the home pack. The signs looked good, but as has been the rub of the green this season attacking deep in the opposition half a slap down from the Thurrock centre bouncing off the arm of a Chichester player was not spotted by the referee. The subsequent interception sent Thurrock away and, with the Blues out of position in attack, the speedy home winger gassed away to score out wide, very much against the run of play. 5 - 0. It was a bit of a body blow but slowly the Blues got back into the game. Toby Golds took the game by the scruff of the neck with a great break down the left wing. There was considerable debate as to whether he had gone into touch but not about the high tackle that stopped him. From the resultant penalty Harry Seaman surged over. Converted. 5 - 7. Gareth Davies kicked deep into home territory and good pressure from Matt McLagan forced a Chichester lineout close to the opposition line. After a series of drives Johnson smashed over for the Blues’ second score. Conversion just missed. 5 - 12 with fifteen minutes gone. More pressure and a penalty was missed but Chichester kept driving forward. The game was disrupted by several fracas, with the home side looking to disrupt as much as possible and the Blues trying to attack, using front foot dominance and the strong wind. The game was becoming niggly but Chichester were focused and playing some good rugby. Probably the try of the game came as Sam Renwick hit a gorgeous line off Rhys Thompson that saw the outside centre slice through under the post. Converted. 5 - 19. Half time and Chichester in a decent position, but they knew the second half would need a big effort playing into a very strong wind.
Blues started superbly forcing errors through good pressure defence. The strength in the scrum paid off again as Johnson shrugged off two defenders and used his power to surge over and gain the try bonus point. Converted. 5 - 26. However, concentration levels dropped as Thurrock moved the ball well. Several missed tackles compounded the situation and the home team responded with a quick try. A simple conversion was missed. 10 - 26. The Blues now started to struggle, not helped by several injuries. Captain Charlie Wallace and hooker Dane Gingell both had to leave the field as Thurrock sensed their chance with another try which the conversion beautifully slotted from wide out. 17 - 26. The injuries were taking their toll alongside some tricky decisions. Having won a lineout against the throw Chichester were penalised for crossing, as they kicked clear. Thurrock pounced and, moving the ball at pace, got on the outside of a tiring defence to score again. Converted. 24 - 26. They then forced a penalty and a yellow card for holding on with 20 minutes to go. 27 - 26. A player down and hampered by changes the Blues had to dig deep but could not stop another Thurrock try, roared on by the very vocal home crowd. Conversion missed. 32 - 26. The Blues showed excellent resilience and pulled together for a last push. Another opposition high tackle and the balance shifted. With Chichester straining for the score they needed Sam Drayson rounded off a strong day as he hammered over. Conversion missed by inches. 32 - 31. In the last couple of minutes the Blues fashioned two chances. One of which saw a Thurrock player take out Tyrese Makasi off the ball, to stop him running through on a kick completely in the clear. This was not seen and rounded off a deeply frustrating day for Chichester. Full time. 32 - 31 and the consolation of 2 bonus points.
Paul Colley, Director of Rugby “Thurrock look a decent side and knew how to play these conditions and the circumstances well. We are obviously disappointed and I think we did deserve to nick it, but you have to concentrate throughout the game. However, this performance was a step forward and everyone at Chichester knows that a really good performance is close.”
Chichester squad: Drayson, Gingell, Woods, O’Callaghan, Lindsay, Polhill, Wallace (Captain), Johnson, Seaman, Davies, Golds, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Brown, Makasi and Taylor.
On Saturday, 3rd of November Chichester entertain London Cornish at Oaklands Park. Kick off is at 14:00.