Chichester 19 v 30 Medway
A thoroughly entertaining game of rugby that ebbed and flowed. Medway left Oaklands Park knowing they had been tested.
Chichester made 9 changes to the side that lost to Tottonians in the final match of 2018. Sam Drayson, Dane Gingell, Joe Woods, Jon Lindsay, Ryan Boulton and Ed Bowden came into the pack, with Sam Renwick and Matt McLagan in the backs and Phil Veltom on the bench.
The 3 week festive break had provided time for key players to recover from knocks picked up last time out. Home supporters were looking for a good display against the Kent side after losing by a single try in the away fixture, back in September.
Chichester received the ball from the kick off and Chris Johnson headed off down the slope, cutting a swathe through the Medway defence, in is inimitable style. A further carry from Jon Lindsay provided Henry Anscombe with the ball for a beautifully weighted cross field kick that just eluded Ben Robson but found touch on the 22 metre line. Medway knocked on from the lineout and were then penalised from the subsequent scrum. Signalling intent, the ball was kicked to touch for a lineout 5 metres from the Medway try line. Having secured the ball from the throw Blues had it stolen and an infringement allowed the visitors to clear their lines. Within 30 seconds Medway were in Vultures Corner looking for the first score of the afternoon, but were thwarted by a tackle from Ben Robson. The ball was moved back across the pitch and a timely interception by Sam Renwick provided Blues’ respite with a kick to touch. However, Medway came again and quick ball out to the impressive left winger provided their first try of the afternoon in Vultures Corner. Conversion missed. 0 - 5 after 5 minutes. From the restart Chichester upped the tempo and contained the opposition in their own half. A Chichester lineout just inside the 22 metre line set up a driving maul, which seemed to catch Medway off guard, allowing Sam Drayson to peel off and make ground towards the try line. The ball was recycled by Harry Seaman to Anscombe and on to Rhys Thompson, whose exaggerated dummy wrong footed two defenders and created space to squeeze through and dot down next to the post. Conversion by Charlie Norton. 7 - 5. The next 12 minutes were played exclusively in the Blues half, but resolute defending repelled each Medway attack. With 22 minutes played an attempted interception was deemed to be a deliberate knock-on and the referee produced a yellow card reducing Chichester to 14 players. The penalty was kicked to touch and from the lineout the ball was zipped across the field to the Medway No. 6 who cut back through the Blues’ defence to score under the posts . Converted. 7 - 12. From the restart Chichester once again upped the tempo containing the visitors in the their own half and pressuring them into an infringement on the 22 metre line. The ball was kicked to touch and Blues reran their earlier play, from the lineout, with the driving maul. Once again Drayson peeled off but this time made it to the try line to score. Converted from out wide by Norton. 14 - 12 with 28 minutes played and time for Phil Veltom to join the fray! Another infringement by Blues saw the referee producing his yellow card for a second time and as one player left for the sin bin the other returned from it. Penalty kick converted. 14 - 15. Chichester saw the half out without conceding further points, but a Medway penalty did hit the post and come back into play. More worryingly Blues’ scrum was starting to creak. Half time and 14 - 15 with Blues playing 18 minutes with only 14 men.
Medway were straight out of the blocks trying to work the ball out quickly to their speedy wingers. The Blues’ defence was solid and each time the ball reached the wing the attack was snuffed out. An error from the visitors on the left wing allowed Matt McLagan to recover the ball and mount an attack. The ball was passed out to Gareth Davies and on to Thompson sending Robson on his way out wide. Having beaten 2 defenders an inside pass to beat the last defender was knocked on, allowing Medway to clear their lines and move down field. A charge by the opposition scrum half was stopped by a text book tackle from Norton but Blues once again infringed, within kicking range, as the ball was worked out wide. Penalty converted. 14 - 18. As in the first half Chichester raised the tempo from the restart. The ball was passed to Johnson who charged through the Medway defence making 25 metres before finally being stopped, what seemed like half the Medway team. A quick lineout throw by Norton to himself caught Medway out allowing a chip over the defence, but the chase was blocked. The resulting penalty was kicked for a lineout 10 metres from the try line. This time Medway were ready for the driving maul and a series of pick and goes got the ball to within a metre of the try line. The ball was recycled to Davies and on to Thompson whose long pass looping missed out 3 players and bounced perfectly in front of McLagan who collected and touched down in the corner. Conversion missed. 19 - 18. For the next 17 minutes both teams put in significant effort without reward. Crossing the 22 metre line was proving extremely difficult until a Chichester clearance kick was charged down and the visitors won the foot race and score. Conversion missed. 19 - 23 and 13 minutes left to play. From the restart the ball was passed out to the Medway right wing on the 22 metre line who jinked his way through Blues’ defence and was finally stopped 25 metres from the try line by a high tackle. The referee awarded a penalty try and produced a yellow card, reducing Chichester to 14 players for the remainder of the game. 19 - 30. Medway were unable to take advantage of the extra man and despite both teams taking the ball into the opposition’s red zone there was no further scoring. Full time and 19 - 30.
A thoroughly entertaining game of rugby that ebbed and flowed. Perhaps the outcome would have been different if Blues had played with a full complement for 80 minutes, but Medway left Oaklands Park knowing they had been tested.
The supporter’s man of the match was Sam Drayson.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Gingell, Woods, Lindsay, Boulton, Bowden, Polhill, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe (Capt.), Robson, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Veltom, Magda and Davies.
On Saturday, 12th January Chichester travel to Camberley for their first away game of 2019. Kick-off is at 14:00.