Chichester’s winning National three London south east run came to an abrupt end against promotion contenders East Grinstead who had an excellent afternoon and earned a bonus point in the first half with a 40-18 victory.
It was no surprise as they showed extra power and all-round skills. However, Chi were without their regular centres and one of their replacements was injured after 45 minutes.
Two EG tries were conceded when Chi had lost a man through a yellow card. They competed better in the second half and deserved their consolation tries.
The final scorecard showed six tries and five conversions to two tries, a conversion and two penalties. Prominent Chi players were Ben Polhill, Aaron Davies and Chris Johnson.
Chi, in their red and blue change strip, had Dom Farmer and Tom Jackson in the centre, Ken Dowding at loose-head and Toby Golds at full-back.
They made a good start and went through the phases to threaten the try line. EGs went offside and fly-half Richard Adams confidently kicked the penalty.
The hosts replied with their own phases, fly-half Prescott pulling the strings. Chi tackled well but one was finally missed near the left wing and flanker Ashmore dived across. Prescott missed the conversion from wide, his only failure.
Chi were pressed into the right corner but stole a lineout and Adams cleared. A strong tackle by Sean Shepherd put them on the front foot to drive to the 22 but they were penalised at a scrum.
Johnson flattened the EGs hooker but pressure built and they moved the ball rapidly both sides of the pitch, a low pass well-taken by left-winger Dickson to score at the corner although he may have placed his foot on the touchline. It was converted for a 12-3 lead.
Martin O’Callaghan, Johnson and Golds combined in attack but a knock-on stopped progress. Polhill picked up and broke a tackle, earning a penalty which Adams slotted.
Golds tackled hard to prevent a score at the corner but was penalised and received what seemed to be a team yellow card for infringement on the ground. Chi were a man down as EGs moved into top gear.
Johnson charged from the rear of a retreating scrum but an offload went astray and EGs countered rapidly to spin the ball left, Ashmore on hand to score again. Converted.
After a big Jack Bentall tackle, full-back Copsey went on a fast and mazy run to set up a driving maul. The ball was sent out with good hands and the fourth try obtained and converted.
Chi finished the half attacking the right corner with Paddy MacEnri not released, penalty followed by a Davies lineout catch, then a scrum and another penalty to the corner but the whistle intervened. The score was 26-6 but Chi were not giving up.
They restarted and looked promising. Johnson, Davies and Adams made ground and the attack went in. A penalty, quick delivery by Bentall from the lineout and scrum-half Harry Seaman spun it out. Farmer launched himself over the line. The conversion by Adams was good but Farmer was injured and left the field after treatment.
Bentall switched to inside centre and Omar Ellaboudy took his place at nearside flanker. At 26-13 it was nip and tuck for a few minutes.
EGs captain Clayton got his usual sinbinning for his regular infringements and they resorted to gamesmanship by keeping the ball in their scrums to win several resets and wind the watch down for ten minutes. It was professional and effective but unnecessary and very boring for cold spectators.
Back to 15 they exerted some pressure and although Chi managed another turnover, Prescott was given space to kick over the Chi defence to the line. Centre Keyworth won a short race to collect on first bounce to score on the left. Conversion – 33-13.
Chi’s backs handled securely for right winger Dean Bonds to go near. Polhill disrupted EGs tidy scrum-half Parker and Adams and Shepherd started a counter-attack on the EGs 22 but a pass was intercepted by the accelerating Copsey, who scored under the posts.
Chi showed great spirit and the last action was a combined forwards and backs move which put Ellaboudy along the right wing. He held off two heavy tackles to pass inside for Seaman to break another and offload to MacEnri to go over.
The conversion just wide,but it was an honourable finish.
After a rest this week, another big game brings promotion contenders Westcombe Park to Oaklands Park on April 2 (3pm). All support welcome.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Shepherd, Dowding, Davies, O’Callaghan, Bentall, Polhill, Johnson, Seaman, Adams, MacEnri, Farmer, Jackson, Bonds, Golds, Belcher, Ellaboudy.
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