Chichester made an excellent start to their programme of pre-season friendlies when they beat Staines – a team who play a division above them and in the national league – 39-14 in a friendly at Chichester College.
The Blues unveiled a number of youngsters, including them in their 27-man squad as reward for their excellent pre-season efforts.
New first XV skipper Jon Lindsay led his young team with a smattering of more experienced players for the first of four 20-minute sessions on the fantastic Chichester College pitch.
The Blues started brightly and only a dropped ball out wide prevented an early score.
Staines’ big forwards started to get on top in the tight with a solid lineout and decent scrum. The Blues’ lineout faltered and Staines capitalised with poor tackling and excellent transfer. Staines scored out wide and with a beautiful conversion led 7-0.
The Blues responded almost immediately with Cavozzi offloading to Johnson and the fast-travelling No8 muscled his way down the tramline, shunting defenders away to score.
The pack started to pick up the pace with Johnson putting in thumping tackles and Shopland taking the battle to the Staines forwards. Taylor and Adams started to pull the strings with debutant Cook looking sharp in attack.
Another quick movement took play close to the Reds’ line and big lock Cavozzi dived over. With the conversion, Chichester led 12-7.
In the second quarter, the Blues rang the changes and Walker at No12 hit a strong line and swerved past a despairing defender to score under the posts.
Anscombe was zipping the ball at pace with Adams arching away from defenders to unleash the backs. With the defence opened up, another dropped pass saw the opportunity gone.
The Blues made more changes and were immediately under pressure. A Staines score made it 19-14.
Chichester were on the back foot but a moment of magic as Kirkpatrick released Jackson. The big man gassed away from the cover ghosting 70 metres before being hauled down - but the ball was recycled and Ollie Wilson was up to surge over.
Kirkpatrick then showed his tremendous footwork to step past two men to open up the now-tiring Staines and make it 29-14.
In the last quarter, the Blues were really in control. The forwards were clearing quickly and snuffing out any danger. Out wide Seaman used some judo-style tackles to thump the attackers to the ground. O’Callaghan carried strongly with Gillings often in support.
Taylor zipped down the blindside with a gather and punt to the corner and Seaman chased hard to whip a pass inside to Walker, whose strength took him over for his second try.
The Blues rounded off in style as Sevi burst through on an inside line and big Luke Davies followed up. With a fantastic offload he kept the ball alive and quick movement of the ball enabled skipper Lindsay to round the game off with the final try out wide.
Head coach Rob Lawrence said: “There were lots of positives and we played with excellent tempo - although we have lots to work on as we left a lot of points out on the paddock.”
Director of rugby Paul Colley added: “It was a very promising start but we won’t get carried away. Both sides were missing personnel but our young guys really stepped up and will make the next few weeks very interesting.”
This Saturday (August 18) the Blues will have to go up several gears as the take on big-spending Tonbridge Juddians at ones and twos level. Kick-offs are 1.30pm at the university (first XV) and college (second XV) pitches.
CHICHESTER: Shopland, Davies, Woods, Ryan, Nicholls, Cavozzi, Lindsay, O’Callaghan, Wright, Gillings, Foulkes, Cameron, Johnson, Taylor, Adams, Kirkpatrick, Robson, Walker, Seaman, Cook, Renwick, Anscombe, Wilson, Fairbairn, Hutchinson, Foley, Seviua.