It was a day to celebrate for the home team – and a very sad one for Chichester.
Their 16-10 National three London south east loss at Amersham and Chiltern was a first win for the home teamm but the Blues lost a game which was theirs for the taking with their extra possession from scrums and lineouts.
They suffered another serious injury and paid the price for two players sinbinned for technical offences at the breakdown.
The forwards performed well, especially Ken Dowding, Aaron Davies and Alex Grace, but the backs had an off-day with lateral passing and no penetration to overcome a solid defence in the enemy 22.
Lady Luck has deserted Chi and is unlikely to return unless they play with improved control and more attacking ideas. A&C’s final margin of victory was one converted try and three penalties to two tries.
Chi had four players returning from injury but there were still five others injured or unavailable. Jak Evans was scrum-half with Henry Anscombe at full-back. Josh Gibbs made his debut at lock.
Both sides had early attacks, the Chi backs being fed from scrums and rucks but meeting tackles. A&C’s new right winger Anderson gave an early warning with a sprint, beating a tackle easily. They won a penalty for Chi not rolling away at a tackle and fly-half Fluker slotted the first points.
Aaron Davies, Tom Belcher and Dowding carried strongly and Ross Miller was released in space to run hard along the left wing. He was hit by a flying tackle into touch and collision of heads meant a hospital trip with a fractured cheekbone. Harry Seaman replaced him.
Grace made a huge tackle to stop a counter-attack and his lineout catch led to a maul which was held up. Aaron Davies was dominating at the front of the lineout and his solo charges from the scrums took him well over the gain line.
Blues exerted pressure and Rhys Thompson and Seaman went close near the left corner. They tried to breach through the centre with the big men but then went back with pick and go.
Finally Evans took a quick tap penalty and dived through a small gap to touch down. Taff Davies missed the conversion five metres in from touch.
A penalty from about 38 metres fell short. AC came back and Chi made two hurried kicks in defence which gave the ball back and caused them problems. Jack Bentall rescued and at the next scrum Chi pushed their opponents right back against the head. It was 5-3 at half-time and Chi seemed to have the edge.
A&C looked sharp after the restart with crum-half McDonald a real nuisance, sniping for gaps. Ben Deavall was on as a replacement for Sean Shepherd and Matt Woodhouse stretched his legs with a canter on the right wing before being forced out.
A&C started to press and another big hit by Grace was necessary. Anderson evaded tackles and they won two penalties.
McDonald’s kick took them to the left corner with lineout transfer to the backs. Martin O’Callaghan went over on his hands at the ruck and received a yellow card. The penalty was converted by Cameron McDonald.
Worse followed five minutes later when another A&C attack was stopped by a firm tackle and Taff Davies snatched the ball. The referee gave him a yellow card for not releasing the tackled player. But Taff was not the tackler, he was first man in and no ruck was formed. The penalty was converted by C McDonald – it was 9-5 to A&C and Chi were down to 13 men.
Chi were shocked but their forwards carried powerfully and won a penalty delivered accurately to the right corner by Anscombe. O’Callaghan ran back on and the pack launched the driving maul for ten metres with Belcher scoring under the pile of bodies. A challenging conversion was narrowly missed by Anscombe.
So 10-9 up and still one man down, Chi attempted to kick the ball out of their 22 as A&C sought a winning try. The ball went loose in the centre, A&C seized it and passed swiftly to winger Anderson. The defence had been drawn and he was across for their try, well converted by C McDonald.
Chi tried desperately in the last few minutes to retrieve things and had another penalty to the right corner. This time their drive was held but a lineout catch by Bentall gave one last chance.
But as they drove there was a knock-on and A&C made sure by winning their resulting scrum despite the intense pressure. They joyfully kicked to touch for the final whistle.
This week Chi face Wimbledon at Oaklands (2.15pm). The Dons are in second place and competing for promotion. All support very much needed.
Chichester: Dowding, Shepherd, Belcher, O’Callaghan, Gibbs, A Davies, Grace, Bentall, Evans, T Davies, Woodhouse, Farmer, Thompson, Miller, Anscombe, Deavall, Seaman, Blewitt.
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