Chichester kept their excellent recent form going with a 34-0 whitewash at Tunbridge Wells.
Nick Blount, injured in the previous week’s win over Hove, was replaced in the row by Jon Lindsay and the big back-rower had a very strong game to give the Blues strength going forward.
A rest for back Eddie Armah saw Ross Fairbairn return to first-team action for the first time this season and he responded with several trademark runs and his usual physical defence.
Experienced Tom Polhill came in for the injured Sam Renwick and, with Jack Smallman, he gave the Tunbridge Wells midfield little time and space.
The big win sets up the Blues for this Saturday’s visit to Oaklands Park of London Irish Amateurs for a third-versus-second clash (2.15pm).
Chichester kicked off up the considerable hill and against a strong gusting wind but were quickly in their stride with Lindsay forcing an early penalty. Richard Adams belied the very strong wind to push the Blues deep into the Wells 22.
TWs have had a difficult season but have been producing better performances of late. They showed excellent resolve as they thwarted a series of powerful drives from the blue eight. Chichester battered the home line but Wells held on. McCluskey moved the ball away, Golds hit the line but a strong home tackle drove him back and TWs cleared.
The Blues came again. Adams ghosted through the gap and hit Smallman on a great line to slice through under the posts.
Wells had an edge about them and Johnson reacted in one incident. The referee picked up on it and the No6 was off for ten minutes. Almost immediately another minor fracas saw a second Blues man trudge off after a harsh yellow.
The next ten minutes were going to be tough but Moses Kasujja, the big skipper, grabbed the game by the scruff with a series of huge runs, bouncing defenders aside with Lindsay and Veltom on hand to carry on driving work.
Walker chased hard and dumped his opposite number and after two quick passes, Smallman was away again. It ended in a penalty, slotted home by Golds.
Wells were reluctant to use the strong wind and when they did Chichester fielded safely.
The blue forwards were on top with the lineout functioning well and the scrum solid. Chichester closed in on the line with Wells hanging on grimly, often gambling on the penalty by killing the ball. But their luck held as neither card nor penalty was forthcoming.
The Blues knew they had to carry on the same tempo in the second half. They made an early change with Hinojosa on for Walker, who had taken a knock.
The visitors pinned Wells deep in their own territory and Johnson was hauled down inches short.
The forwards upped the ante using the slope to devastating effect. Barlow burst from a lineout with a great offload and his second-row partner Lindsay surged over. Adams slotted the extras for a lead of 17-0.
The Blue pack were working to great effect with powerful driving play. One drive went a full 30 metres before the home flanker killed the ball. The lack of a card was another mystery. However from the resulting kick, Lawrence was on hand to orchestrate a series of shunts to go over wide out.
Chichester went through a strange 20 minutes in which a series of excellent breaks came to nothing.
Wells lost a man to the bin for continually killing the ball but Chichester didn’t captilise. Eventually Kasujja came off the back of a now-dominant scrum to stretch over but the ref claimed it was held up.
Chichester had been guilty of chasing the bonus try and lost their shape and structure.
But with McCluskey causing havoc around the ruck, eventually the Irishman broke with a delicately-weighted kick and Adams’ excellent foot speed saw him win the chase through to score out wide. He narrowly missed the extra points.
Fairbairn came off his wing looking for work and an excellent inside pass put the strong winger away as he stormed over to finish the game with Chichester’s fifth try. Adams punched the ball through the uprights to close the score at 34-0.
Head coach Richard Issac said: “There were one or two very strong performances. However we lost our shape for a while and need to look at this in training before we face London Irish at home this week.”
Director of rugby Paul Colley added: “Wells have improved significantly and I was particularly pleased with our first half against the elements. But we have a huge game next and we must improve on our game management.”
CHICHESTER: Pszczonaka, Lawrence, Veltom, Lindsay, Barlow, Johnson, B Polhill, Kasujja, McCluskey, Adams, Walker, T Polhill, Smallman, Fairbairn, Golds. Reps: Shopland, Gillings, Hinojosa.