Sevenoaks 36 v 17 Chichester
By Simon Tanner
Blues give Oaks a late scare....
Chichester made 7 changes to the side that lost by a single point to Cobham last time out. Richard Ives, Dane Gingell, Baz Magda and Ben Polhill came into the forwards, with recent colts, Jack Martin, Hamish Minton and Joe Knight, on the bench.
Sevenoaks started the day in second place knowing that nothing less than a bonus point win would do if they were to stay in the title race. Persistent drizzle and a stiff northerly breeze did little to dampen the spirits of a large crowd cheering on the “Mighty Oaks”.
From the kick-off Chichester were immediately under the cosh, defending their goal line, as Sevenoaks looked for an early score. With only 4 minutes gone Dane Gingell left the field with a calf injury and it was necessary to reorganise the pack, with Ives moving to hooker and Magda up to prop. As the minutes ticked by anxiety seemed to creep in and Sevenoaks started making some errors. This allowed Blues some respite, moving the ball into the opposition half, with runs from Eddie Jenkinson, Rhys Thompson and Matt McLagan. Finally, after 31 minutes, Sevenoaks broke through the Blues defence to score, providing a little relief for their supporters. Converted. 7 - 0. Chichester then lost Thompson to a shoulder injury requiring a reorganisation in the backs, with 19 year old Jack Martin coming off the bench to play scrum half. On the stroke of half time Sevenoaks scored a second try which was converted. 14 - 0.
Chichester started the second half with the wind behind them, allowing Henry Anscombe to get Blues on the scoreboard with a drop goal after 4 minutes. 14 - 3. It only took Sevenoaks 16 minutes second half minutes to achieve their objective, running in 2 more tries to secure the all important bonus point. Both conversions were missed. 24 - 3. However, Blues hadn’t read the script and started a fight back. Some superb kicking from Anscombe tested the opposition backs and Sevenoaks found themselves contained in their own half for nearly 20 minutes. Any attempts to break out were dealt with efficiently and Blues were competing for every ball at the breakdown. A kick to the corner from Anscombe provided a lineout opportunity 10 metres out. The ball was gathered by Ryan Boulton and taken to ground by Richard Ives. Joe Woods picked up and battered his way through the Sevenoaks defence, supported by Boulton and Ben Polhill, to touch down. Converted. 24 - 10. With 6 minutes left Blues had a scrum on the 22 metre line. The pack went through the phases with a series of pick and goes, marshalled by Polhill, moving the ball closer to the try line with every carry. It was Woods who took the ball over the line for his second try of the afternoon. Converted. 24 - 17 and concern on the touchline, from the Sevenoaks faithful, with time running out. The effort expended getting back within 7 points had taken its toll and there was very little left in the tank, as physio Holly Boarer made running repairs to the Blues, and Sevenoaks ran in 2 late tries. Full time and 36 - 17.
Sevenoaks, unbeaten at home this season, have the best defensive record in the league. Blues will take some positives away from this game having lost 2 players early and seemingly out of it after 56 minutes. A great performance from the whole team, 6 of whom were under twenty years old.
The supporter’s man of the match was Joe Woods.
Chichester squad: Ives, Gingell, Woods, Boulton, Magda, Makasi, Polhill, Wallace (Capt.), Baker, Anscombe, McLagan, Thompson, Renwick, Jenkinson, Davies, Martin, Minton and Knight.
Chichester entertain Westcombe Park's 1st and 2nd teams on Saturday, 13th April for the final fixture of the 2018/19 season. Westcombe Park’s director of rugby is Blues’ ex-head coach Rob Lawrence. This will be his first visit to Oakland Park since leaving in 2017. The games kick off at 13:30 and 15:00.