Blues are happy at Hove as points move them clear of danger

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden
Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

A great team performance by Chichester earned a 43-10 win at Hove that moves them up to eighth place in London one south.

With three games left the bonus-point victory leaves the Blues nicely clear of the bottom three.

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

Chichester made six changes to the side that beat Chobham. Phil Veltom, Callum Gibson, Charlie Wallace and Chris Johnson came into the pack, with Callum Cone in the backs and Baz Magda on the bench.

The Chichester faithful made the journey mindful that Hove, although relegated, could be the proverbial banana skin. They had lost only narrowly to Medway and Havant in recent weeks, which was not lost on Blues coach Scott Ashley and the players.

Hove started strongly and alarm bells were ringing when they crossed the whitewash after only eight minutes to take the lead.

The Blues didn’t panic and stuck to their game plan, and with lightning line speed and excellent ball retention they attempted to punch through the opposition defence.

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

A Hove infringement provided Henry Anscombe the opportunity to pop one in the corner for a lineout on the 5m line. The lineout was executed perfectly and the forwards drove across the line for Josh Cameron to touch down. It was converted by Anscombe from out wide for a 7-5 lead.

Soon Tom Blewitt put on the after-burners in the Chichester half and outstripped the Hove defence to score – 12-5.

Three minutes later Chris Johnson, on his return from injury, made one of his trademark charges from midfield. The Hove right wing made a valiant tackle but was powerless to stop the No8, who bulldozed his way to the line.

A further Hove infringement provided the opportunity for the forwards to reprise the first try. A lineout ten metres out was gathered and the forwards drove for the line but were stopped short.

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

Hove v Chichester action / Picture by Michael Clayden

Callum Cone picked up and darted down the blindside to touch down for the bonus-point try after only 30 minutes. Another excellent conversion by Anscombe from out wide made it 24-5.

Breach is England's Six Nations hero
With five minutes left in the half Ed Bowden ran the ball in from the Blues’ half, having wrongfooted the Hove defence. So 31-5 up at the break, the Chichester faithful’s pre-match fears were allayed.

A stirring team talk by the Hove coach at half-time seemed to have an effect. They started to pass the ball with confidence, using the width to test the Blues’ defence. After a period of sustained pressure Hove made the breakthrough to score their second try.

Chichester’s response was immediate with a clever run from Rhys Thompson finding a gap in the opposition defence for a simple try under the posts. Converted, it took the score to 38-10.

Blues have to work hard for reward
Two minutes later a yellow card put Hove down to 14 men. Blues threw the kitchen sink at them but were unable to capitalise on the one-man advantage.

It took a further 15 minutes to increase the score when Magda used a move from the Johnson playbook to burst through and dot down for a try.

With the clock ticking down, Hove’s advantage in the scrum gave Blues some anxious moments as play ebbed and flowed between the 22m lines, but there was no further scoring.

Supporters’ man of the match was Josh Cameron.

Chichester: Drayson, Cameron, Veltom, Boulton, Gibson, Bowden, Wallace, Johnson, Cone, Anscombe, Seaman, Thompson, Renwick, Blewitt, Golds, Magda, O’Callaghan, Baker.

* Chichester entertain Cobham at Oaklands Park on Saturday – the penultimate home game of the season. Kick-off is 2.30pm, support the Blues if you can.