Chichester fail to have a Barnes-stormer

Ben Polhill, Jack Bentall and Tom Belcher couldn't stave off defeat at Barnes
Ben Polhill, Jack Bentall and Tom Belcher couldn't stave off defeat at Barnes
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Chichester competed hard away to high-flying Barnes but finally went down fighting by three tries, two conversions and a penalty to a try and a penalty - 22-8 the final score.

The scoreline was a little flattering to the hosts as Blues actually won the second half 5-3 but Barnes had too big a lead at half-time.

In the space of 13 minutes Chi had been undone by two driving mauls and a bad mistake which brought a 19-3 deficit after a good opening 15 minutes when they were on top.

The Barnes defence was outstanding and their back line had extra flair which always spelt danger. Chi went close to scoring a second try which might have given them a losing bonus but they just fell short.

They can take heart from a spirited performance against very good opponents who are genuine promotion contenders.

It was a pleasant afternoon and Chi welcomed back Ken Dowding and Jack Bentall. Robin Guest replaced Rory Tanner, who was concussed in the previous game at Tring. Kieran Mudd was at inside centre and Tom Polhill on the bench.

They were soon into the Barnes 22 and working phases. The backs got moving and the home defence had to tackle solidly across the pitch.

Chi opted for a penalty kick after five minutes and it was easily kicked by fly-half Alex Marsh. They moved well again from a Tom Jackson intercept and a useful kick to the wing by Aaron Lowe.

A good running line and crash ball between Marsh and Chris Johnson nearly succeeded and Phil Veltom carried strongly from breakdowns.

Barnes’ backs stretched their legs and gave serious warning with a big break by their outside centre and Chi had to scramble to the rescue at the right corner.

Barnes pressed from ten metres out and won two penalties and lineouts before assembling their strong drive maul to go over with a flanker touching down. It was converted by the full-back.

Two minutes later a high kick should have been caught on the full but it was allowed to bounce and the ball passed over heads and was grabbed by the following-up Barnes man, who sprinted from just over halfway to the try line. Tom Jackson managed a last ditch tackle but the offload found a supporting attacker to score the second try, which was converted.

Chi went briefly to the other end but were disrupted at the lineout and Barnes returned and scrum-half Henry Anscombe had to clear with a fine touch kick.

In the 33rd minute, hard-working Bentall seemed harshly penalised for coming around the scrum to snaffle the ball after it seemed to be out. Two penalties put Barnes on the other side of the pitch where they mauled powerfully 20 metres with Chi unable to stop it. A try was awarded and despite a missed conversion it was 19-3.

Chi set about playing catch-up with a determined catch and run by full-back Toby Golds. Jackson also showed his speed and a kick ahead brought two five-metre scrums.

Chris Johnson battered at the defence but Barnes held firm. Mudd kicked to the left corner and they forced out a defender trying to clear. The ball was spun across but Barnes cleared from a penalty at a ruck.

Into the second half, Chi were passing the ball a lot in the backs but it tended to be lateral with no punching through the centre.

Mudd was injured and replaced by Tom Polhill and Tom Belcher replaced Joe Shopland at hooker.

Barnes attacked in the centre, Chi went offside and the full-back slotted the penalty.

Johnson continued to carry with great power but he was frustrated by the Barnes second defensive line. He and Bentall required support at their shoulders but it was not there.

Chi persevered and Golds was showing a good example with his covering and kicks. Guest tackled firmly and then Chi were aggressive and won two turnovers.

Out to the backs it went, a touch kick and lineout won against the Barnes throw and Ben Polhill was at the back of the drive maul to score a deserved try. The conversion from wide out was short.

Marsh made a lovely break and a try looked likely but he was pulled down withfive5 metres to go. A knock-on stopped another attempt on the right wing.

Jackson, Johnson, Veltom and Marsh all handled in the next attack but another knock-on ended it. Barnes roared back, probably wanting the bonus-point try and a fast backs move gave them a two on one at the right corner.

Golds read the intention perfectly and a great tackle knocked the winger into touch.There was a last run by the tireless Johnson before the whistle blew.

This week Chi host old rivals Gravesend (2.30pm) hoping for big support.

CHICHESTER: Dowding, Shopland, Veltom, Dickin, Neil, Johnson, B Polhill, Bentall, Anscombe, Marsh, Jackson, Mudd, Lowe, Guest, Golds. Reps: Belcher, Meachin, T Polhill.

ROGER GOULD