CHICHESTER have made it back to back wins in resilient style after a very tough and rugged game away from home.
Tonbridge Juddians 14
National 3 London & South-east
Due to significant financial backing Tonbridge have become favourites for promotion.
Despite this, the Blues got off to a flying start, with a solid line out and scrum in the opening minutes, putting the home team under pressure.
Chi were quickly feeling confident and this was reflected by a series of drives.
Pitchford then finally capitalised on his side’s dominance as he powered over the line to give them the lead, conversion missed, 5-0 Chi.
Although the home side bounced back after their poor start.
They then forced a penalty on Chi, with Driscoll holding on, making the score 5-3.
With the tie back in the balance it became very tense once again.
In the end the Blues had regained their dominance in the scrum as Joe Woods gave their loose head and tight a lot of problems.
This led to Woods forcing a penalty, allowing Gray to slot home, making it 8-3.
Chi went on to play some excellent rugby after forming a five point cushion.
The skipper Ben Polhill anticipated a turnover, which led to Dickin spotting a great supporting run from Shopland who went on to charge over for the Chi’s second try, which Gray converted, on the twenty minute mark, 15-3.
However, this good spell of momentum was brought to a halt after fly half Gray left the field with a bad blood injury.
This allowed the Red and Whites back into the game as they had an extra man.
They forced two kickable penalties in quick succession to end the half, 15-9.
After Gray departed the field due to a very bad injury, he accompanied his sublime skill with great bravery as he returned back on to the field.
This undoubtedly inspired the squad as they came out for the second half with an increased tempo.
They were imminently rewarded as their pressure brought them another penalty, which was taken, 18-9.
Similarly to the first half, the home side reacted well as they began to capitalise on their height advantage in the line outs.
The Reds began to see more of the ball and stepped up their intensity, forcing some great defending from the Blues.
The more the second half wore on, the more Chi had to dig deeper.
Bentall and Gillings led a superb defensive rear guard, which was backed up by the hooker, Shopland, who had a fantastic all round game and had an outstanding tackle count.
The blues hung in grimly and eventually the quality of Bentall came to the fore as he crucially robbed possession in a tackle allowing the Blues to release the pressure.
The home side kept coming with their 13 looking very dangerous and their big forwards firing into life.
Then Chi’s resilient defensive line buckled after a poor clearance was charged down for a unconverted try, making it 21-14.
Despite conceding, it did allow Chi to take a breather and regroup.
Chi then started to move the ball at pace with Adams counter attacking well from fullback and Chris Johnson began to win collisions which gradually forced the reds back, leading to a series of penalties.
Gray showed his class slotting all of his penalty away to push the Blues to a strong 24-14 lead.
The Blues showed immense character, as they were led by the inspirational skipper Polhill.
The home side threw all they could at Chi and began to get frustrated as they tried to force the pace of the game.
The game did end on a sour note as the home hooker kneed Polhill in the head, leading to a straight red card.
The final whistle came to Chi’s delight after sealing an import win but also it was only a matter of time before a player was going to get seriously injured, due to sheer frustration from the Reds.
Rob Lawrence said: “It’s not the best performance of the season but actually Paul and I are very pleased with the tenacity and mental toughness to win on the road against very strong opponents.”
Next week sees a top of the table clash, as current front runners, Westcombe Park, visit Oakland’s park at 3pm.
With both sides unbeaten it should be a cracking encounter.
Chichester: 1 Belcher 2 Shopland 3 Woods 4 Dickin 5 Blount 6 Pitchford 7.Polhill-capt 8 Johnson 9 Anscombe 10 Gray 11 Harte 12 Renwick 13 Lowe 14 Driscoll 15 Adams 16 Velsaco 17 Gillings 18 Bentall