Staines removed - and Chichester set up title crunch

Rory Tanner was influential again for Chichester    Picture by Louise Adams C131249-6
Rory Tanner was influential again for Chichester Picture by Louise Adams C131249-6
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CHICHESTER completed their eighth double and earned a necessary bonus point, winning by five tries and two conversions to a try for a 29-5 victory at Staines.

They had a poor first half, throwing the ball around in gay abandon against their relegated but spirited and hard-tackling opponents.

They became dominant in the second period when they had all the possession but should have scored more tries. Much better organisation and control will be needed to beat the very strong teams they face in their final three games.

The Blues were without Ben Polhill, Phil Dickin and Tom Jackson. Toby Golds returned at full-back and Ben Robson and Alex Grace on the bench. It was a bright afternoon on a good pitch but with a blustery wind.

There was an electric start when Sam Renwick broke right through from his own 22 and raced to within five metres of the try line before being caught. Chi elaborated in attack and were driven back by long wind assisted touch kicks.

Rory Tanner was sent on a typical run along the wing and then Tom Belcher, Jack Bentall and Niall Goldie linked to put Will Turner over from 15 metres. It was converted by Richard Adams.

Staines went close and were winning scrum ball. Two Chi thrusts failed with Dom Reid forced out near the corner and some wayward passing. Staines stole the ball and from a lineout they mauled competently across the line for an unconverted try.

Moses Kasujja carried powerfully from a scrum and a pass to the supporting Aaron Davies saw the flanker run in just left of the posts. A disappointing conversion hit the outside of the upright.

The Blues continued to make handling errors before a Staines man was sinbinned for a deliberate knock-on. A driving lineout was held, followed by loss of a five-metre scrum. The hosts tried another maul but this time it was stopped. It was 12-5 at the break but Chi had been guilty of too many mistakes.

After losing a lineout, Chi recovered and attacked from another 20 metres out.

Adams confused everyone but himself by running sideways, backwards and then forwards before sending out a great pass to the marauding prop Belcher to hare down the wing. He beat the last defence and went around to touchdown and help the conversion by Adams for a 19-5 lead.

Staines were not going to surrender, holding a Chi maul, winning their scrum and attacking dangerously on the left wing.

Chi stepped up a gear and there were several moves across the backs before Bentall received a big hit in front of the posts.

Chi then pressed at three lineouts but poor throwing made things difficult. Finally the ball was spun across the backs with good hands and Renwick scored near the right corner.

Jon Lindsay showed pace with a break out and he, Billy Toone and Kasujja took the ball close to the line. Staines grabbed it and tried to pass out to the wing but it was knocked on and Nick Blount fell on the ball for the fifth and final try.

The Blues continued to press in the last five minutes and Belcher went close.

Now, this Saturday, comes the biggest game of the season against a very powerful Gravesend side. Chi were rather unlucky to lose by one point in the away fixture but the Kent squad are in excellent form.

If the Blues win they will give themselves a chance of the title - and be virtually assured of at least second place, which would bring a play-off game for promotion against a team from London one north.

Massed support is requested - please get to Oaklands Park early for the 3pm kick-off.

CHICHESTER: Turner, Shonk, Belcher, Blount, Lindsay, Davies, Goldie, Kasujja, Toone, Adams, Tanner, Bentall, Renwick, Reid, Golds, Lawrence, Grace, Robson.

ROGER GOULD

Read a preview of the Gravesend game - and find about the squad the Blues have named for the game - in the Observer, out now