Chichester 23 Hertford 30 National three London SE
CHICHESTER’S bad form continued at Oaklands Park where Chichester somehow managed to lose another close and exciting match which they should have won.
Their poor finishing and other mistakes were gratefully accepted by the visitors.
In summary, Chi had seven clearcut try chances and took just three, whilst Hertford had three and took each of them.
So it boiled down to kicks from the tee, Chi successful with three from five and Hertford immaculate with six from six.
Chi played good attacking rugby with forwards working very hard and backs creating the chances with their speed of transfer but in the end they were foiled by street wise opponents who did the basics better.
Blues were without the injured Rory Tanner and unavailable Jack Bentall.
Aaron Davies moved to No8 and Chris Johnson returned at nearside flanker.
The pitch was in good condition despite earlier rain.
Hertford arrived with confidence after beating the top and fourth placed teams in their last games.
They were in the lead after just five minutes when a high kick from Chi was run straight back and a grubber kick set up scrums and maul for flanker MacDougall to peel off and go over.
A big conversion by Russell from wide out, the first of his six.
Chris Johnson drove hard and Tom Belcher shipped the ball to outside centre Aaron Lowe.
He passed to Richard Adams looping round and he timed the final delivery well for winger Leon Driscoll who scored in the left corner.
A lovely conversion by Henry Anscombe, also from the touchline made it 7-7 after nine minutes.
A penalty for each team by Russell and Anscombe kept it level pegging.
A Hertford raid was stopped by a solid tackle before Chi won a lineout and executed a powerful driving maul followed by backs running hard on the right to bring an overlap but losing the ball with the try line wide open.
Another poor final pass ruined an opening for Driscoll on the other side.
Belcher made ground on half way and the forwards launched a 30m driving maul with Hertford desperately hanging on.
But when the ball was sent out it was dropped.
Chi’s penalty was converted by Anscombe, 13-10.
The impressive Lowe ran well and chipped over the top into touch before the Hertford machine started to roll.
They showed their class with a fast counter attack and built good position with careful phases and despite Chi tackles, especially a firm one by Sam Renwick.
They drew the defensive cover and their full back Smart, timed his run perfectly to score in the right corner, before being converted again.
Driscoll was caught and Chi penalised for holding on and Russell guided the ball home, 13-20 at the break.
Chi had competed well in the tight and managed to steady the ship after a shaky start.
Davies and Nick Blount had taken their own lineout ball although the Hertford jumper was too good to be disrupted.
The scrum front five were matching the muscle and the back row directing a superior driving maul with Ben Polhill in charge at the rear.
All that was needed was clinical finishing by the backs.
Hertford were caught napping from the restart when Driscoll got the ball and ran straight along the touchline, avoiding attempted tackles and scoring a fine individual try at the left flag.
Chi attacked with a Lowe half break and a Hertford flanker sin binned at the ruck. Driscoll was tackled just short as pressure was stepped up.
A sweeping move brought overdue reward with Anscombe in space to take Lowe’s final pass and crash over five metres from the right corner for 23-20.
This was a crucial time when Chi urgently needed to consolidate the lead with Hertford on the back foot.
But Chi surprisingly declined a kickable penalty for the second time in the match and went for the corner lineout which was lost due to a throw which was not straight.
Hertford advanced and threatened but Chi won a turnover and crossfield passing found a gap on the wing but the ball went to ground.
A penalty to the left touch corner fell just short and a sequence of mishaps lost the game.
Hertford had knocked on but from the Chi scrum they intercepted a blindside pass and ran to the left corner where Tom Jackson made a try saving tackle.
Hertford seized the moment, won the ball and mauled towards the line.
Showing their strength their pack gave Jones the chance to break away and beat poor tackling in the centre channel, smacking down near the posts before the conversion, 23-27.
Will Turner, Lowe and Adams combined to try once more but a dangerous tackle brought a third penalty for Russell and a yellow card for Mark Giddings.
It was heartbreak for the Blues but they kept at it and showed total commitment.
However, Hertford tightened their grip and recycled compently to keep possession.
They pressed with scrums but Chi got a penalty to clear.
With a last flourish Joe Shopland, Danny Gray and Lowe got the ball across to Driscoll but he was forced out.
The last scrum was 10 metres out from the Hertford line.
They made sure of their win with a very big shove to push Chi back and clear their lines.
Some solid tackles kept Chi at bay and the whistle blew to end an enthralling contest.
Hertford had come back well and Chi had paid a high price for mistakes.
Next week Chi travel to Amersham for the first time and need to win to keep sixth place in the league. all support welcome, k.o.2.30p.m.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Giddings, Belcher, Lindsay, Blount, Johnson, Polhill, Johnson, Toone, Adams Driscoll, Renwick, Lowe, Jackson, Anscombe, Turner, J Shopland Gray.