Chichester end 2018 with defeat in atrocious conditions

Another depleted Chichester side found Tottonians too strong for them in the mud and rain.

Chichester made nine changes to the side that lost to Sevenoaks. Adam Geal, Alex Taylor and Ben Polhill came into the pack, with Ben Heber, Ben Robson and Gareth Davies in the backs and Tom Polhill and Tom Hutchin on the bench. Joe Watts made his first-team debut at hooker.

Scrum time in the mud for Chichester at Tottonians / Picture by Alison Tanner

Scrum time in the mud for Chichester at Tottonians / Picture by Alison Tanner

The Blues and their small band of hardy supporters braved Storm Deidrie’s high winds and driving rain to travel the short distance along the M27 to Totton, hoping to recover the November form which saw them win four games on the bounce.

Chichester received the ball from kick-off and made a positive start playing into the wind, making 40m with drives from Chris Johnson and Luke Kemish. A delicate chip from Henry Anscombe tested the Tottonians winger, who knocked on.

From the scrum Anscombe found Rhys Thompson, with a looping pass, who drew the defender and passed to Matt McLagan, who was stopped five metres from the try line.

The recycled ball found McLagan, who found a gap in the opposition defence to dot down. The conversion bid was held up in the wind.

With the advantage of the wind, Tottononians were enjoying the greater possession, but both teams were struggling to play fluent rugby in the conditions.

Adam Geal picked up a spilled ball and fed Thompson, whose cross-field kick was caught on the run by Ben Heber, wide right.

The ball was recycled to Anscombe who put in another cross-field kick to switch play to the left and a fortunate bounce found McLagan for an offload to Johnson. At the breakdown the ball was turned over by the opposition, clearing their lines with a kick down-field.

As the pitch cut up the opposition pack started to push the Blues backwards at each scrum, with Blues conceding penalties. After resolute defending, Tottonians made a rare foray into the Chichester red zone and touched down for a try, converted for a 7-5 lead.

An infringement provided the Totts No10 an opportunity for a wind-assisted long-range penalty. With time running down the Tottonians’ pack drove Blues across the try line but an alert Anscombe was first to touch the ball down.

A further Blues’ infringement provided Tottonians with another long range penalty attempt and it was 13-5. Tottonians were awarded a penalty five metres from the Blues’ try line and went with a scrum, pushing Chichester over the try line. The opposition flanker was penalised for a double movement as he touched the ball down.

Blues can't fell Sevenoaks
Hove hammered by Chi
With both teams sporting clean kit after the break, Chichester kicked off with the wind behind them. But it took Tottonians only three minutes to increase the score. A series of drives from the halfway line after a Chichester knock-on ended in a converted try.

Chichester enjoyed a few minutes of respite but their play was punctuated with handling errors. Tottonians recovered the ball from a Blues’ knock on, and scored a carbon-copy try after a series of drives – 25-5.

Drives from Johnson, Ben Polhill and Martin O’Callaghan moved the ball into the opposition red zone before a spilled ball ended the move. Chichester were straight back on the attack and enjoying possession in the opposition half.

Disaster struck and Chichester found themselves down to 14 men after a yellow card for dissent. Undeterred, Chichester scored. Ben Heber intercepted the ball just inside the Totts half and raced away to score under the posts. The conversion made it 25 -12.

Could this start a comeback? Sadly not as Blues conceded three more tries and finished the game with 13 players because of injuries.

Chichester: Geal, Watts, Magda, Kemish, Taylor, O’Callaghan, B Polhill, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe, Heber, Thompson, Robson, McLagan, Davies, T Polhill, Makasi, and Hutchin.

* Chichester play next on January 5 – they entertain Medway at Oaklands Park (2pm).