Chichester’s special day of rugby - the first of many?

Oaklands Park was packed by people watching Chi take on Gravesend  Picture by Louise Adams C140425-8
Oaklands Park was packed by people watching Chi take on Gravesend Picture by Louise Adams C140425-8

CHICHESTER’S rugby bosses reflected on their memorable and special day in the spotlight - and declared: We’d like many more the same.

Around 1,000 fans flocked to Oaklands Park on DSaturday to see Chichester topple Gravesend. Many said it was their best-ever win in their biggest-ever game.

The 19-15 success kept alive their London one south title hopes and while they remain second favourites to win the league, with Gravesend likely to take it courtesy of their game in hand, they have an excellent chance of achieving their dream of promotion to the national leagues through plan B - a play-off.

Chichester will guarantee at least the play-off place, which would see them play the second-placed finishers from London one north, with one more point from their final two games.

And while the Blues look to end with back-to-back away wins at Wimbledon and Brighton, they do so in the knowledge that any slip by Gravesend could hand them the title and automatic promotion.

Chichester had to come from 9-0 and 15-12 down to beat Gravesend, defending superbly at the death to hold on to their lead.

Head coach Rob Lawrence said: “It was a special day - now we want to make sure there are many more like it, whether that is a play-off for promotion, or games next season in the national league - if we reach it - against a host of very good sides.

“We were overwhelmed by the public support we had - the sheer number of people there was amazing.

“It was a good win and it says much about how far we’ve come that we were disappointed not to get a fourth try and a bonus point.

“We had a plan to stop Gravesend and break them down. As it turned out, we stopped them better than we broke them down. The fact they didn’t score a single try was very pleasing.

“We were a bit over-eager and keen early on but settled, chased well and began to play our game as we know we can.

“The atmopshere of the whole day and the spirit the game was played in was tremendous. I think everyone at the club can have a great feeling of pride.

“Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, we can be proud. That goes for all the people behind the scenes you need to run a club, as well as those of playing and coaching.”

The Blues hope many of those who went to watch them beat the Gs will return to Oaklands on a regular basis - and a fair few will cheer them on at Wimbledon on Saturday, when Gravesend host a Brighton side who need a win to keep alive their own fading promotion hopes.

The following week, Chichester visit Brighton while Gravesend go to Hove. On April 19, Gravesend play their extra game - away to bottom team Haywards Heath.

Lawrence said: “We’re massive underdogs for the title and I think we will finish second. We could well have a home one-off play-off and that would be an even bigger game than last Saturday’s. What a day that would be!”