Chichester 29 v 12 London Cornish
The bonus point win keeps Blues in touch with the teams above them in the league.
Chichester made 3 changes to the side that lost by a single point to Thurrock last time out. Ryan Spriggs came into the pack, with Josh Cameron and Stewart Ellaby on the bench. Ben Polhill took over the captaincy from the injured Charlie Wallace. The Oaklands Park pitch, freshly cut and in perfect condition for running rugby, was bathed in autumnal sunshine. Gusting winds would challenge be a challenge for the kickers and at the lineout.
Blues kicked off towards Oaklands Pavilion. The clearance kick from Cornish was collected by Chris Johnson, who stormed forward in his inimitable style. A pick and go from Joe Woods drew the penalty and a sublime kick from Gareth Davies found touch at the 5 metre line. Cornish deflected the throw back into their goal area and, under pressure from Josh Brown, touched down for a 5 metre scrum to Chichester. Johnson picked the ball up from the back of the scrum but was stopped on the line. 2 further attempts were also halted short before Woods dived under the defence to touch down. Charlie Norton converted from out wide. 7 - 0 and only 4 minutes on the clock. Cornish made several attacks down the slope but the Blues’ defence stood solid, dealing with the threat but conceding several cheap penalties. Cornish were unable to get their driving maul working and Chichester cleared their lines. A box kick from Harry Seaman was picked up by the Cornish defence but an errant pass provided Rhys Thompson the opportunity to demonstrate his soccer skills. Kicking the ball 3 times and making 30 metres he outstripped the opposition defence and picked up, before touching down to score. Converted by Norton. 14 - 0. From the restart Blues knocked on, infringed at the scrum and from the resulting tap and go penalty were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card for a high tackle. Surprisingly, Cornish opted for a scrum, rather than the kick between the posts, conceding a penalty and allowing Chichester to temporarily clear their lines. Despite all the rugby being played in Chichester’s half Cornish could not find a way through the Blues’ defence. Still a man short Chichester made a rare foray into the opposition half and the forwards went to work. 10 phases later Seaman fed the ball to Johnson who crashed through 2 defenders and stretched out to dot down on the line. Conversion by Norton. 21 - 0 and half an hour gone. The last 10 minutes were punctuated with handling errors as both teams struggled to assert authority on the game. As the clock ran down Blues were awarded 3 penalties close to the try line, in Vulture’s Corner, but were unable to secure a bonus point try before Cornish kicked into touch to end the first half. Half time. 21 - 0 and Chichester desperately needed to find the composure they had shown earlier in the game.
London Cornish came straight out of the traps in the second half and spent the first 10 minutes with the ball in the Blues half, without creating a scoring opportunity. Finally, Chichester secured the ball from a Cornish infringement and kicked for touch in the corner. Ben Polhill won the ball in the lineout and the pack headed towards the opposition try line. What seemed like certain try was turned over and Cornish were able to kick clear. Momentum shifted back to Cornish and they spent several minutes camped on the Blues’ try line. Finally, they breached the defence but spilled the ball before it could be touched down, allowing Chichester to clear down field. Respite was brief and Cornish were once again camped in the Blues red zone. The ball was moved from one side of the pitch to the other, and back again. Finally, an infringement in Vulture’s Corner provided the opposition with a tap and go on the 5 metre line, catching the Blues’ defence out of position. Converted. 21 - 7 and 15 minutes to play. From the restart Chichester moved the ball towards the Cornish 22 metre line and enjoyed a few minutes of sustained pressure as the forwards slowed the game down and gained vital yards. Seaman fed Davies, who passed to Thompson and sent Sam Renwick away on a looping run that took him outside the full back and inside the winger, for Chichester’s 4th try and the all important bonus point. Conversion missed. 26 - 7 and 12 minutes left. From the restart Blues were penalised for not releasing and further penalised for back chat. The ball was kicked into Vulture’s Corner and a third penalty was conceded from the lineout. Another quick tap and go caught Chichester’s defence flat footed and a long pass found the Cornish scrum half in space to touch down close to the posts. Conversion missed. 26 - 12. Was there still time for Cornish to come back? From the restart Chichester moved the ball towards the opposition 22m line attempting to maintain possession and run down the clock. An infringement by Cornish provided a penalty attempt from Norton which was missed. The drop out was knocked on by Blues but Cornish were penalised at the subsequent scrum, providing Norton with another attempt at the sticks. This time it sailed between the posts. 29 - 12 and less than 2 minutes left. Chichester secured the ball from the restart and Seaman kicked for touch, ending the game. Full time. Five points keeps Blues in touch with the teams above them in the league.
Supporter’s man of the match was Sam Drayson.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Brown, Woods, Taylor, O’Callaghan, Spriggs, Polhill (Captain), Johnson, Seaman, Davies, Golds, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Cameron, Makasi and Ellaby.
There is no game on Saturday, 10th November. Chichester return to action on Saturday, 17th November when they travel to Chobham. Kick-off is at 14:30.