Chichester's winning run ends at hands of Thurrock
Chichester fell to a disppointing home defeat to Thurrock after having to make numerous changes to their winning side.
They played at times like strangers in the first half and Thurrock were in charge. The Blues were much better after the interval but it too late to save the game.
The Blues made six changes to the side that beat Brighton. Josh Cameron came into the pack, with Eddie Jenkinson and Charlie Norton in the backs and Tyrese Makasi, John Lindsay and Ben Heber on the bench.
After three wins on the bounce, an expectant crowd were in place.
Chichester kicked off down the slope but immediately found themselves defending their 22m line as Thurrock probed for an opening. The ball was passed to the Thurrock fly-half for a drop goal.
The next 20 minutes were punctuated with handling errors and infringements as both sides struggled to keep possession.
A breakthrough by the visitors came with a well-weighted chip over the top which Blues managed to gather at the expense of a 5m scrum.
From the scrum an inside pass wrongfooted the Chichester defence and Thurrock’s outside centre dotted down and Chi trailed 10-0.
On a rare Chi foray into the Thurrock half the visitors infringed and Henry Anscombe kicked a penalty from just short of halfway.
Then the Blues conceded a penalty in kicking range and were 13-3 down.
Another penalty conceded left them on their 22m line defending. Playing with confidence, Thurrock passed the ball across the width of the pitch before a long pass found the winger and a sidestep beat three Chichester defenders for a second try.
The Blues put together a series of passes and moved the ball into the opposition half.
This time Thurrock were caught offside in front of the posts.
With a free ball Anscombe attempted a drop goal which was just wide but he didn’t miss the subsequent penalty. Another Thurrock infringement provided Anscombe with a long-range penalty that was just wide so it was 18-6 at the break.
The first ten minutes of the second half brought four yellow cards, reducing both teams to 13 players. The Blues grew in confidence and moved the ball into the Thurrock red zone, gaining ground with pick and goes.
Sam Drayson found a gap to ground the ball in Vultures’ Corner to the delight of the Chi faithful on the balcony. The conversion from out wide by Anscombe made it 18-13.
Thurrock responded immediately and a long pass created an overlap and their winger ran around the end of the Chi defence to score. The conversion made it 25-13.
An infringement from the restart allowed Anscombe to kick for the corner. From the lineout Blues gathered the ball and drove for the line. Phil Veltom crossed the line but the referee signalled that it had been held up, before producing a yellow card and reducing Thurrock to 14 players.
From the scrum Chichester bulldozed the visitors back across the try line for Ben Polhill to touch down. Another conversion from out wide by Anscombe meant Chi were only 25-20 behnid.
Thurrock scored next from a penalty for offside in front of the posts. With time running out Chichester upped their game, winning a penalty which Anscombe kicked into touch in Vultures’ Corner. The drive from the lineout was held and a free ball signalled.
The ball was recycled to Anscombe for a deft kick the full width of the pitch for Ben Heber to collect. The referee indicated a knock on as the ball was grounded and play returned to Vultures’ Corner for a scrum.
An infringement allowed Thurrock to clear but good work from the forwards turned over the ball. Chichester moved it cross-field and a pass to Charlie Wallace found a gap in the Thurrock defence for a 45m run to the line. The referee deemed it forward and Blues hopes of securing a losing bonus point were dashed.
Chichester: Drayson, Cameron, Terry, Veltom, Gibson, Polhill, Wallace, Johnson, Cone, Anscombe, Baker, Seaman, Jenkinson, Golds, Heber, Makasi, Lindsay, Norton.
* Chi have no game this weekend but on Saturday, March 2 they go to south west London to play London Cornish (2.30pm).