Chichester 39 v 22 Chobham
By Simon Tanner
Blues recover from a first half wobble to win in style.
Chichester made 7 changes to the side that lost narrowly to London Cornish last time out. Josh Cameron, Ben Polhill and Ed Bowden came into the pack, with Rhys Thompson and Toby Golds in the backs. Ryan Spriggs and Adam Geal were on the bench.
Oaklands Park was bathed in spring sunshine and the freshly mown pitch providing excellent conditions for running rugby.
Chichester kicked off down the slope, into the breeze, putting Chobham under immediate pressure and forcing a knock on 25 metres out. From the scrum a deft kick over the defence bounced awkwardly and was well gathered by Tyrese Makasi to cross the line and score under the posts. Converted. 7 - 0 and less than 2 minutes gone. From the restart Blues moved the ball back down the pitch with Sam Renwick looking to break through the opposition defence. Chobham infringed at the breakdown and with advantage being played Henry Anscombe attempted a drop goal which went wide. It went back to the penalty which he didn’t miss. 10 - 0. Chobham responded with an extended period of play in the Chichester red zone but could not find away over the try line and settled for a penalty kick in front of the posts. 10 - 3 and 20 minutes played. Ryan Boulton gathered the ball from the restart, burst through the Chobham defence for an offload to Makasi who passed to Josh Cameron, for a try close to the posts. Converted. 17 - 3 and Blues seemingly cruising! However, the Chobham response was instant with a ball across the backs at speed creating a gap in the defence for a converted try. 17 - 10. The early confidence evaporated as Chobham’s long passes stretched Blues’ defence allowing the left wing to run in a try from 30 metres. Conversion missed. 17 - 15. Despite Chobham’s best efforts Chichester hung on for the last 10 minutes. Half time and 17 - 15 with the Chichester faithful left pondering such a dramatic change in fortunes.
Chichester started the second half like the first with a pass from Anscombe to Matt McLagan releasing Rhys Thompson. Chipping the ball over the opposition, from half way, he won the foot race, gathered and dotted down in Vulture’s Corner. Conversion missed. 22 - 15. 5 minutes later Blues were back in the Chobham red zone. A pass from Anscombe found Thompson who burst between defenders at speed, dragging one of them across the line, as he scored his second try and secured the bonus point. Converted. 29 - 15. For the next 15 minutes both teams ran the ball at every opportunity, as play ebbed and flowed between the 22 metre lines. Finally, Chobham infringed allowing Anscombe to add a further 3 points with the boot. 32 -15. As the minutes passed Chichester ratcheted up the pressure with long passes, sweeping the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. An infringement on the opposition 22 metre line provided Harry Seaman with the opportunity for a trade mark tap and go. The ball was recycled to Anscombe whose pass found McLagan with 2 team mates on his outside. They weren’t needed as he tripped and fell across the line to score Blues’ fifth try. Converted. 39 - 15 with 10 minutes left. An infringement with 5 minutes left saw Blues reduced to 14 men, when the referee produced a yellow card. A final flourish from Chobham saw a neat interchange between the fly half and No. 8 split the Blues’ defence for a converted consolation try. Full time and 39 - 22.
Chichester move up to 9th place in London South 1, with 4 matches remaining. With Chobham all but relegated, after 6 seasons in London 1 South, we wish them all the best for next season and hope they bounce straight back.
Supporters’ men of the match were Rhys Thompson (backs) and Ed Bowden (forwards).
Chichester squad: Drayson, Cameron, Woods, O’Callaghan, Boulton, Polhill, Makasi, Bowden, Baker, Anscombe (Capt.), McLagan, Thompson, Renwick, Golds, Blewitt, Spriggs, Seaman, and Geal.