Chichester’s 27-8 win over Chobham at Oaklands Park was another excellent bonus-point win in London one south for the Blues against very good opponents.
They gave the Surrey team their biggest defeat for a long time and it was adequate revenge for Chobham doing the same to Chichester in the away match.
Lessons had been learned and Chi restricted Chobham’s lineout supply to their fast back line, and a combination of drift defence and good tackling when necessary frustrated the visitors.
It was only 12-8 at half time but Chi took control and scored three more well-worked tries without reply. The final tally was five tries and a conversion to a try and a penalty.
The Blues are two points ahead at the top but Gravesend have a game in hand.
Both squads looked strong on paper and Chobham kicked off with bright sun in their eyes and on a reasonable surface.
Chichester went ahead after just three minutes with a drive lineout on the right touch, hooker Tom Belcher getting his 11th try.
High kicks were favoured by both sides and there was competent catching and running back. Left winger Leon Driscoll used his footwork but ran into a brick wall, inside centre Jack Bentall made a hard tackle and full back Tim Cook marked a Cobham kick ahead and cleared to touch.
The pace was fast and furious between the 22s, Chobham winning penalties and fly-half Thomson slotting an easy one for three points.
Chi put together attacking phases with good hands by backs and forwards before possession was lost in a tackle.
In the lineouts Phil Dickin and Niall Goldie were well lifted to more than match their very tall opposite numbers and began to disrupt Cobham’s catches. The scrums were even but Chi’s back row was alert to any quick ball for Chobham at the ruck.
A Chi maul was promising and outside centre Sam Renwick was sharp with a half break. Goldie, Driscoll, Phil Veltom and Bentall combined but their fine move was stopped by a slightly-forward pass.
Chobham pressed again from a free-kick and moved into the left corner. They were repelled when they tried short passes towards the centre but went back to the corner for loose head prop Kuwana to power over from close range to make it 8-5.
Chi had a difficult five minutes and gave away penalties at the breakdown The burly Chobham No8 had a go with a gallop up the right wing but Blues stood firm and reached Vulture’s Corner.
A muscular drive and ruck failed with a player going over the top. But Cook ran with the ball in front of his own posts and Tom Jackson took a pass. He promptly kicked very long down the right touchline and the full-back was in trouble.
He was duly nailed, the forwards were quickly up, and a good ruck saw Moses Kasujja diving over for their second try, converted by Henry Anscombe. At half-time, Chi were 12-8 up.
Chi looked determined on the restart and attacked but Chobham cleared with a penalty to touch. Both sides knocked on in useful positions.
Scrum-half Jack Walker made good yards with a strong run and Bentall and Veltom carried before Chobham won the scrum against the head. It was nip-and-tuck but Chi were winning more territory despite the penalty count against them.
Blues seized lineout ball from a Chobham throw, Renwick made a break but Jackson’s kick ahead went too long. Veltom cut his head colliding with a team-mate and left for hospital needing stitches.
A high kick by Chi was knocked on by Chobham and the home backs with Bentall leading launched a smart attack with slick hands. A big drive by the forwards followed and replacement Latu was over and pressing down. At 17-8, Chi had finally cracked it.
A superb move by the backs brought the bonus try. Anscombe gave a good pass to Renwick, who cut inside but was heavily tackled almost at the right corner flag. As he was lifted in the air, he gave a remarkable reverse-flip pass to Ed Durkin in support. The replacement scrum half crashed across for his first try of the season.
Chobham continued to press but well-marshalled defence and strong tackles kept them at bay.
Anscombe cleared and Chi went again to the other end with an impressive move, Renwick again showing pace and swerve. Chobham were forced into errors and from a tap penalty they passed the ball into touch.
Chi took full advantage and from lineout and drive, lock Jon Lindsay was unstoppable - scoring Chi’s 78th try in 16 games.
This week the Blues hit the long road to Dover for a tough game against a team difficult to overcome on their own pitch. There will be room on the team coach for supporters who fancy a day out.
CHICHESTER: Turner, Belcher, Veltom, Lindsay, Dickin, Goldie, Polhill, Kasujja, Walker, Anscombe, Driscoll, Bentall, Renwick, Jackson, Cook. Reps: Johnson, Latu, Durkin.