Chichester lost out in the battle of London one south’s unbeaten sides, going down 45-10 at East Grinsteead.
The Blues knew this would be the biggest test of the season - and so it proved.
Chichester entered the fray with a strong squad but with key players Jack Bentall and Joe Woods unavailable and with Ben Polhill standing in for injured captain Jon Lindsay.
Conditions were heavy and tacky as the match started with a thumping tackle from Aaron Davies on EG’s Tamali, driving him back, with a series ferocious tackles coming in from both sides.
EG worked good field position from early penalties but Chi responded with excellent defence and, with ball in hand, looked dangerous with Luxton and Renwick going on surging runs.
For 20 minutes the game ebbed and flowed with lineouts pretty even and Gs having the upper hand at scrum time.
In the loose a titanic battle ensued with Chris Johnson, Polhill and Moses Kasujja creating decent front-foot ball.
Golds ran hard from deep but became isolated, conceding a penalty for holding on which was converted.
The Blues responded almost immediately with an unbelievable try from powerhouse No6 Johnson surging past two startled defenders then straight over two more to outpace the cover and go in under the posts. Richard Adams slotted the extras.
Gs kept to their kicking game with their Scottish under-20 fly-half showing his range of kicks. Just under the half-hour he launched a long raking kick wide left.
Golds looked like he had it covered and slowed expecting the ball to bounce into touch but it kicked back viciously straight over the despairing full-backs shoulder straight into the Gs winger’s hands. Even though the cover got across one quick pass saw Downey, their outstanding No13, scorch over.
Gs forced another penalty to lead 13-7. Chi looked to take a quick tap penalty deep in their own half but the subsequent knock-on gave the Reds good scrum position - another pen and Gs moved the ball quickly; the Blues slipped off their tackles and suddenly Gs led 20-7.
The Blues dug deep with Jackson piercing the defensive line. Gray and Cook set up Polhill but a last-ditch tackle felled him inches short.
Chichester had shown in the first 40 minutes they could trouble Gs, and they started the second period strongly forcing some early penalties as the referee started to pick up the Reds’ back row for offside.
The blue forwards started to pound towards the line and looked like they would breach the home line but another offside offence brought down Cook a couple of metres short. Adams slotted the extras but it was still 20-10.
The Blues seemed to get a run of decisions against them. Twice Billy Toone took quick taps and was brought down way inside the required ten and both times was robbed of the ball - then a run of five penalties in a row against Chi gave up good field position and two converted pens to give Gs a 26-10 buffer with ten to go.
EGs were now in the ascendency and good play by their powerful backs saw them score their third try.
Chichester kept attacking with Jackson again counter-attacking well only to be hit with a head-high shot, forcing the ball to be spilled. The Blues expected the whistle but it didn’t come and the Gs No12 scooped the ball up and hared over.
The game ended with another wide kick bouncing favourably for Gs to wrap it up.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “I was proud of our guys who played until the very end. The scoreline doesn’t really reflect the game.
“On another day, it might have been different – that said, EGs are a very strong side. They have acquired some excellent players over the past few seasons and on the day were the better side.”
CHICHESTER: Shopland, Gray, Veltom, Davies, Goldie, Johnson, Polhill, Kasujja, Toone, Adams, Luxton, Cook, Jackson, Golds. Reps: Corrigan, Sauliga, Seaman.
This week Chichester host Trojans at Oaklands (2.30pm) - all support welcome.