A remarkable Chichester RFC colts season ended with a heartbreaking 15-10 defeat to Worthing in the Sussex Cup final.
First came their awards evening which was well-attended snd brought a host of winners as the team, parents and coaching staff celebrated the season.
Finishing second in the Colts Premier League and reaching the semi-final of the national colts knockout highlighted what a successful season this has been. James Fitzmaurice was player of the season with Will Prior the players’ players.
The final game saw the blue and blue take on Worthing at Brighton RFC in the cup final, which they had reached the final for the first time in many years.
Worthing have assembled an all-conquering under-17 team, officially the best in the country, and the blues knew this would be a massive test.
Chi started strongly with Alex Margarson and Joe Stirrup stunning their much bigger opponents with the ferocity of their tackling and forcing errors.
The forwards started to get among the Worthing forwards with Elliot Quinten probably having his best game of the season.
Once the initial attacks from the Worthing had been repelled the Blues started to control play – Tom Hutchin moved the ball well and went on a couple of darting runs but support didn’t quite arrive in time. But the pressure told with a calmly-slotted three points by Hutchin.
The Blues punched into the corner; Fitzmaurice won the lineout and with the Blues marching for the line the Worthing defence came from the side deliberately killing the score. The ref ran immediately behind the posts for the penalty try and a yellow card – the Blues led 10-0.
The scrum was pretty even although the lineout was shaded by Chichester, but Worthing were still winning enough ball to give their dangerous backs something to run on to.
Margarson was a one-man tackling machine and Worthing were shaken. The ref didn’t like the Blues defence at the tackle area and the penalties started to rain in. Worthing had no kicker but Chi lost the first of four players to the bin. But Worthing could not breach the line before half-time.
The Blues lost a man to the bin every ten minutes for a variety of curious calls.
The upshot was every time some good possession was achieved, another penalty and yellow card followed.
Worthing’s forwards eventually breached the line twice in succession. With 15 minutes to go it was 10-10 and all to play for.
Margarson made a fantastic break but his pass from the tackle bounced agonisingly out of reach of Strirrup and the chance was gone. Worthing upped the tempo into the last ten minutes and used the bench well.
There was another cruel break for Chi with Ned Renwick strangely yellow-carded for a spurious offence which he seemed to be a long way from.
Worthing surged forward but great tackling and spoiling from Tom Adlington and a unbelievable steal from Charlie Constable stopped what seemed a certain score.
Hutching broke and the Blues forced their way deep into the Worthing 22 – they looked to have forced the easy penalty for in at the side but an incredible holding-on call from the ref stopped Chi forging ahead.
The half-hour of playing with 14 men took its toll on Chi and the quick Worthing backs broke out wide to score in the corner to take the spoils.
But it had been nn unbelievable effort from the Blues with the Worthing backs being at least a stone a man bigger.
The heart, commitment and skill was there in bucketloads. Worthing were probably the best side Chi have played this year and they can hold their heads high that this was a very close contest. The Sussex president said after the match it was the best Sussex colts final he had ever seen.
CHI: Prior, Munroe, Rugman, Watmore, Fitzmaurice, Grinsted, Adlington, Quinten, Goodwin, Hutchin, Baxter, Stirrup, Margarson, Gallimore, Patterson, Brereton, Delacy, Constable, Scott, Grace, Renwick, Seehawong.
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