Chichester produced a gallant fightback at Wimbledon and bagged what could yet prove a vital bonus point on their visit to face their second-placed hosts in a game of two very different halves that ended in a 45-25 defeat
Richard Adams returned at fly-half for the National three London south east game, with Henry Anscombe moving to scrum-half and Ross Miller starting at inside centre. Tom Belcher returned on the bench.
The sun was shining on a spring afternoon in south west London but the blustery wind made kicking extremely difficult.
Straight from kick-off Chichester were under the cosh, defending in their own 22. The early pressure was absorbed until a penalty was conceded for not releasing. A fairly simple kick was missed by Crooke, the Wimbledon No10, who went on to slot home his next seven kicks.
From the restart Chichester made progress towards the Wimbledon try line but were soon repelled and a deft chip from Crooke was gathered and offloaded for a simple converted score by the home team.
Shortly after, Wimbledon were penalised at the scrum and Anscombe knocked the ball through the posts to make it 7-3.
In the space of 23 minutes, and despite some valiant defending, Chichester conceded three further tries under the posts to find themselves 28-3 down.
As the first half ended Chichester moved the ball into the Wimbledon 22 and Crooke was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. Pressure was applied and Wimbledon conceded a penalty two metres from the try line.
From the scrum Anscombe fed Seaman who dotted down in the corner. Anscombe produced the kick of the day to convert from the touchline and it was 28-10 at half-time.
Replacements Tom Belcher and Sean Shepherd came on at the restart. Chichester started with determination driving deep into Wimbledon territory with great runs from Sam Renwick and Aaron Davies.
A driving maul from the lineout resulted in a simple touch down for Belcher – 28-15.
A Wimbledon attack was intercepted by Jack Maslen on the 22 with his fine clearance kick finding touch ten metres from the home team’s try line. The ball was fumbled in the lineout by Wimbledon, allowing Chris Johnson to make one of his trademark bullocking runs, releasing the backs with Renwick scoring in the corner.
The conversion was missed but now it was 28-20.
From the restart Wimbledon were again under pressure losing their scrum and conceding another penalty. The kick into corner set up a driving maul from the lineout and from the subsequent pick and goes on the try line, Johnson touched down for Chichester’s fourth try and a bonus point – 28-25.
Wimbledon’s coaching staff were scratching their heads with their team conceding four tries in 22 minutes. However, with 12 minutes left Chichester conceded a penalty for not rolling away and the momentum swung back to Wimbledon.
In the last five minutes Wimbledon scored two further converted tries to dash Chichester’s hopes of an improbable win.
Chichester can take heart from their performance in the second half and the bonus point could prove crucial come the end of the season.
This Saturday, it’s a game as big as they come – at home to Guildford (3pm), another of the teams in the relegation mix. The Blues cannot afford to lose – all support welcome.
Chichester: Deavall, Arden-Brown, Veltom, Blount, Dickin, Davies, Bentall, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Robson, Miller, Renwick, Seaman, Maslen, Belcher, Shepherd, Evans.
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