Second XV keep up the winning feeling at Chichester

Chichester seconds celebrate their bowl win  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Chichester seconds celebrate their bowl win Picture by Tommy McMillan

THE SUCCESS just keeps on coming at Chichester Rugby Club.

A day after the first XV won promotion to the national league, the second XV followed up their own league title triumph by beating Hove 25-0 in the final of the Sussex Bowl at Bognor.

Missing regular captain Martin O’Callaghan, they were led by Bishop Luffa sixth-former Alex Grace, who once again had a stand-out match.

Facing a much bigger, heavy pack, the Blues had to keep the ball away from the tight and play out wide and with pace.

The mood for the first half was set from the kick-off when 18-year-old hooker Harry Shonk tore fearlessly into the opposition to tackle a prop that was easily seven stone heavier than him and set up a turnover ball.

The ball was whipped along the backline for Lewis Harte on the wing to make great ground before prop Tom Belcher supported and burst over to score - that after only 47 seconds.

Nerves and indiscipline allowed Hove to gain some ground and possession until the forwards regained possession and and a superb backline move. Another speedster, Robin Guest, came in off his wing to make an overlap and link with Harte, who scored in the corner.

After 20 minutes, Chichester were 10-0 up and in control, but they then got bogged down in a forwards battle, which played to the opposition’s strengths.

Eventually Jimmy Taylor, who had his best outing of the season and who was clearly thriving in command of a talented backline full of pace and guile, sold the Hove defence a lovely dummy to score Chichester’s third try.

Taylor continued to control the contest between the two opposing sets of backs and then intercepted a loose pass, got in behind the Hove defence and fed full-back Dean Morris, who outpaced the scrambling defence to take Chi into a 20-0 lead.

The second half descended into a forwards battle with the heavy Hove pack dominating the scrum but Chi No8 Liam O’Hagan made numerous breaks from a retreating scrum, always made the gain line and always turned a difficult situation to one of advantage for the twos.

O’Hagan’s pace over the first few yards, his excellent lines of running, quick feet and great hands stood out and he was deservedly named man of the match.

He helped set up another good position and Belcher was supported by the excellent Tom Belcher, who carried very effectively to set up a try for scrum-half replacement Charlie Arden-Brown.

This fifth and final try marked the end of the scoring as the match petered out - but the victory came at the end of a very long and successful season for the Blues’ twos, who have won both their league and cup competitions, beating East Grinstead II on the way to the final.

This exciting and talented group of players are now well set to support the firsts and continue to be a hotbed of emerging rugby talent at Oaklands Park.

PADDY McALPINE