Chichester 22 v 18 Brighton
By Simon Tanner
Blues make it 3 on the bounce with victory against top of the table Brighton
Chichester were playing their first home game for 5 weeks, buoyed by bonus point away wins against Havant and Dartfordians. Blues made 5 changes to the side that beat Dartordians. Richard Ives came into the pack at hooker, with Rhys Thompson at outside centre and Josh Terry, Phil Veltom and debutant Callum Cone on the bench.
Conditions were overcast with a strong gusting wind blowing across the pitch towards Vulture’s Corner.
Chichester kicked off towards Oaklands Pavilion. The clearance from Brighton was volleyed back on the “full” by Chris Johnson and the opposition found themselves back in their red zone with a lineout. A poor clearance kick provided Chichester with a lineout and a powerful run from Joe Woods moved the attack over Brighton’s 22 metre line. The ball was recycled across to the centre of the pitch for Henry Anscombe to kick a drop goal. 3 - 0 and less than 3 minutes on the clock. For the next 10 minutes play was contained in the middle third of the pitch as both teams defended resolutely. Finally, Brighton’s fly half wrong footed the Chichester defence and drew the last man and provide an inside pass for a try close to the posts. Converted. 3 -7. From the restart Chichester pinned the visitors back in the opposition half. A Brighton box, kick 5 metres from touch, was charged down by Ed Bowden but the try was disallowed for offside. Woods recovered the ball from the clearance and Chichester attacked once again with Matt McLagan’s pass finding Rhys Thompson out wide. The outside centre put on the afterburners but was bundled into touch short of the try line. From the lineout Brighton went through the phases and advanced down the pitch before knocking on. From the scrum a long range Anscombe clearance bounced into touch on the 22 metre line and Brighton found themselves back where they started. The visitors once again cleared into the Chichester half but infringed at the breakdown, allowing Anscombe’s trusty boot to once again find touch on the 22 metre line. From the lineout the Chichester pack moved the ball towards the try line with a series of pick and goes. Sam Drayson, Phil Veltom and Woods all made ground, but it was Richard Ives who carried the ball over the line for the try. Converted. 10 - 7 and 10 minutes left in the half. Within 2 minutes of the restart Brighton’s right winger had squeezed in at the corner to put the visitors back in front. Conversion missed. 10 - 12. From the restart Chichester immediately found themselves under pressure in their red zone. A late tackle on Anscombe, after clearing the ball from the in goal area, had the referee producing a yellow card and Brighton reduced to 14 players with 5 minutes of the half remaining. Despite being a man short, Brighton were looking dangerous in attack. A Chichester infringement in front of the posts allowed the visitors to increase their lead to 10 - 15, before the referee blew for half time.
During the half break Chichester regained their composure and started the second half like the first, stifling the Brighton running game. With 5 minutes gone McLagan spun the ball out to Charlie Wallace whose offload found Harry Seaman loitering out wide. A side step beat the first defender and a burst of speed and jink beat the second. The last defender attempted to strip the ball and it dropped to the floor for Ben Polhill to kick on and gather, for a try under the posts. Converted. 17 - 15. Shortly after the restart a Brighton infringement provided Chichester with a lineout on halfway. The ball was worked across to the middle of the pitch to Anscombe whose long pass found Thompson. Once again he hit the gas, carving through the Brighton defence on a 40 metre run to score in the corner. Conversion missed. 22 - 15 with over 30 minutes left to play. For the next 10 minutes both team’s defences stood firm with little progress being made towards either 22 metre line. An infringement in the ruck by Chichester provided Brighton’s full back O’Hagan the opportunity to kick a penalty and reduce the deficit to 22 - 18. A further penalty in front of the posts, 10 minutes later, was pushed wide. Chichester spent the final 15 minutes of the match on the attack but couldn’t find a way through the well drilled Brighton defence. Runs from Toby Golds and Thompson were stopped just short and an Anscombe drop goal attempt went wide. In the dying minutes the Brighton winger broke through the Chichester defence but slipped over on the 5 metre line when a match winning try looked a certainty. Full time and 22 -18.
Paul Colley, Director of Rugby “The last few weeks have seen the squad really pull together, player availability has improved and performances on the pitch have been excellent. Havant, Dartfordians and in particular Brighton gave us different challenges, but to a man the squad has stepped up to meet them. There is still a long way to go and we need more of the same. Hopefully we will have a big crowd at Oaklands Park next week to take on the notoriously tough to beat Thurrock.”
Another excellent team performance and the 4 points puts some daylight between Chichester and the relegation places. Brighton drop to third place, equal on points with Medway and Sevenoaks.
Richard Ives was the supporter's man of the match.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Ives, Woods, Gibson, Bowden, Polhill, Wallace (Capt.), Johnson, Baker, Anscombe, McLagan, Seaman, Thompson, Golds, Blewitt, Terry, Veltom and Cone.
On Saturday,16th of February entertain Thurrock at Oaklands Park. Kick-off is at 14:30.