Chichester 34 v 35 Cobham
By Simon Tanner
Chichester snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the final 22 minutes
Chichester made 5 changes to the side that beat Hove last time out. Matt McLagan and Eddie Jenkinson came into the backs, with Joe Woods, Tyrese Makasi and Gareth Davies on the bench.
The Oaklands Park pitch was bathed in early spring sunshine and a large crowd, with significant representation from the visitors Cobham, looked forward to an afternoon of entertaining rugby. Blues were looking to extend their unbeaten run to three and Cobham were hoping to end a 4 match losing streak.
Cobham kicked off down the slope and immediately conceded a penalty allowing Chichester to move play back up the pitch. When the ball was returned to the Blues’ half a long pass across the 22 metre line was intercepted by Cobham’s fly half for a simple score under the posts. Converted. 0 - 7 after only 4 minutes. From the restart Chichester used the speed of their backs to advance up to the opposition 5 metre line but Cobham stole the ball and were soon back in the Chichester half. An infringement, within kicking range, allowed the visitors to increase the score after 9 minutes. 0 - 10. From the restart Chichester moved the ball across the backs to Rhys Thompson and on to Matt McLagan running at pace. A long pass out wide to Eddie Jenkinson looked like a certain try but he couldn’t outpace the recovering defender and Cobham conceded a penalty 10 metres from the line. A kick to the corner and lineout came to nothing as Blues knocked on as the ball was recycled. Chichester looked out of sorts with dropped passes, knock-ons and missed tackles but were let off the hook when a penalty for another infringement within kicking distance went just wide. After 20 minutes an interception from Ed Bowden relieved the pressure and the subsequent Blues’ attack was halted illegally 5 metres from the try line. The referee produced a yellow card and Cobham were reduced to 14 men. This seemed to settle the Chichester nerves and they began playing with a little more confidence. A pass from Henry Anscombe allowed Charlie Wallace to break through the Cobham defence and give an inside pass to Chris Johnson for a try next to the posts. Converted. 7 - 10. With a couple of minutes left in the first half the visitors conceded a penalty on their 5 metre line in front of the posts. Thompson took a quick tap and touched down before the Cobham defence could react. Converted 14 - 10. From the restart Ryan Boulton recovered the ball and jinked his way past seven defenders before being taken to ground. The ball was recycled to Anscombe whose line fooled the defence and offload found Shaun Baker for a run to the whitewash and try number three. Converted. 21 - 10 and half time, with Blues seemingly in control.
Blues started the second half full of confidence and had Cobham under pressure for the first 10 minutes, before an Anscombe drop goal increased their lead. 24 - 10. From the restart Chichester were penalised for not releasing and the visitors added 3 points to their score. 24 -13. Blues were immediately back on the attack and after 5 minutes of sustained pressure a pass from Baker, from the breakdown, found Johnson in front of the posts. He brushed aside the defender to touchdown under the posts. Converted. 31 - 13 and cruising. However, Cobham hadn’t read the script and in the space of 7 minutes had scored two converted tries. 31 - 27. Blues’ woes were further compounded when the referee produced a yellow card, with 12 minutes left, and sent the wrong player to the sin bin! Having spent ten minutes inside the Chichester red zone Cobham finally got their breakthrough with a ball out wide creating an overlap for inside centre Sanders to touch down. Conversion missed. 31 - 32. With less than three minutes to go Chobham were penalised and reduced to 14 players when the referee produced another yellow card. Anscombe kicked the penalty and Blues were back in the lead. 34 - 32. At the restart the referee indicated one minute remaining and Blues gathered the ball, going through the phases to run the clock down. Then disaster, with Chichester penalised in the ruck. Cobham’s fly half Farrelly coolly kicked the penalty from 35 metres out and the whistle was blown for full time. 34 - 35 and somehow Chichester had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the final 22 minutes.
Chichester squad: Drayson, Cameron, Veltom, Boulton, Gibson, Bowden, Wallace (Capt.), Johnson, Baker, Anscombe, McLagan, Thompson, Renwick, Jenkinson, Seaman, Makasi, Woods and Davies.
Chichester travel to Kent on Saturday, 5th April for the last away fixture of the season, against title contenders Sevenoaks. Kick-off is at 15:00.