Chichester 18 v 16 Westcombe Park
By Simon Tanner
Blues snatch victory from the jaws of defeat
Chichester made 6 changes to the side that gave Sevenoaks a scare last time out. Phil Veltom, Ed Bowden and Chris Johnson came into the pack, with Harry Seaman and Tom Blewitt in the backs and Josh Cameron on the bench.
Blues went into the final game of the season, against Westcombe Park, knowing that a bonus point win would guarantee 9th spot in the league. Chichester welcomed back ex-Head Coach Rob Lawrence for his first visit to Oaklands Park since leaving to become Director of Rugby at Combe. The spring sunshine attracted a large crowd, with a significant contingent from north west Kent, all hoping for an entertaining afternoon of running rugby.
From the kick-off Chichester were immediately under pressure, conceding a penalty in kicking range. 0 - 3 and less than 2 minutes played. Tom Blewitt picked up an early knock and was replaced by Shaun Baker. The first half was not the spectacle the supporters from both sides had hoped for. Neither team managed to dominate and play was regularly interrupted by handling errors, knock-ons and forward passes. Combe did manage to breach the Blues’ defence just before the half hour mark and Chichester responded with a penalty 5 minutes later, from the boot of Henry Anscombe. 3 - 8 at half time.
Westcombe Park started the second half with more purpose and scored a second try after 10 minutes. Conversion missed. 3 - 13. The visitor’s confidence began to grow and the Blues’ defence was working hard to prevent further tries. With 12 minutes left it seemed as though Blues’ season would fizzle out in a scrappy defeat. However, the referee produced a yellow card and Combe found themselves a man short. This seemed to galvanise the Chichester team and from the penalty Phil Veltom shrugged off the attention of 3 Coombe players to touch down in Vultures Corner. Conversion missed. 8 - 13. Five minutes later a Rhys Thompson run created space for the pass to Sam Renwick who outstripped the Combe defence to score. Conversion missed. 13 - 13 and the Chichester supporters in full voice on the balcony. With only 3 minutes left Chichester infringed within kicking range and Combe regained the lead. 13 - 16. With 80 minutes on the clock the ball was passed out wide to Ed Bowden just inside the 22 metre line. A side step beat the first defender and the full back was brushed aside as Bowden sprinted for the line, to touch down in Vultures Corner. Conversion missed. 18 - 16, full time and a great end to the season for the Chichester faithful.
The supporter’s man of the match was Chris Johnson.
This was Phil Veltom's last match for the 1st XV. He will be greatly missed next season but hopes to pull on the blue and blue for the Vets in the future.
Chichester squad: Magda, Gingell, Woods, Boulton, Veltom, Bowden, Wallace (Capt.), Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe, Jenkinson, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Blewitt, Cameron, Makasi and Baker.
Chichester finished 9th in London 1 South with 59 points, winning 11 of their 26 matches.