It was honours even – 20-20 – when Chichester made their first visit to the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields to take on London Cornish.
The London one south game kicked off early in bitterly-cold conditions but, despite snow showers earlier in the day, the pitch was in very good condition. The match had late drama to keep the hardy supporters entertained.
A draw was a fair result with Chichester scoring three tries, one conversion and one penalty to London Cornish’s two converted tries and two penalties.
Chichester made eight changes to the team that beat Brighton last time out with Sam Drayson, Jon Lindsay, Ollie Charlish, Ben Polhill and new boy Will Maxfield joining the pack. Cameron Hopkins returned on the wing after a hamstring injury, with Dane Gingell and Russ Watmore on the bench.
After only five minutes London Cornish infringed with Chichester attacking their try line and the referee awarded a penalty try and produced a yellow card.
Despite being a man down it took London Cornish only five minutes to respond with their prop crashing over close to posts. The conversion made it 7-7.
The next 20 minutes were punctuated with handling errors and wind-affected lineout throws. After 34 minutes London Cornish made the breakthough with their winger intercepting the ball on the halfway line and touching down under the posts. Converted, the score was 14-7.
Chichester responded in the final minutes of the half but were unable to capitalise on their possession.
As the teams took to the pitch for the second half a slight shift in wind direction seemed to favour Chichester.
They started where they had left off and, after 18 phases, Jack Hamilton-Fox was stopped a metre short of the try line. Sam Drayson picked up the ball and dived over to score. A missed conversion left it 14-12.
London Cornish’s response was immediate, catching Chichester offside in their 22. The penalty kick was good – 17-12.
A few minutes later London Cornish were penalised for holding. The Chichester penalty sailed between the posts and it was 17-15.
After 66 minutes London Cornish were again reduced to 14 men and Chichester took full advantage.
An attack saw Chichester arrive at the same spot as their previous try and new boy Maxfield dived through a tiring Cornish defence to touch down. The conversion was missed but at 20-17, Chi were back in the lead.
Chichester went to a kicking game in an attempt to keep London Cornish in their own half. A penalty was conceded and the London Cornish fly-half attempted a mighty kick from just inside his own half which just dipped below the crossbar.
However, the opposition weren’t to be denied and with two minutes left they were awarded a penalty on the ten-metre line. This kick was in range and it was 20-20.
Chichester held on for the final two minutes and the game ended with a long range drop-goal attempt from London Cornish that went wide.
A draw was a fair result.
Chichester: Drayson, Arden-Brown, Maxfield, Pinhorne, Lindsey, Charlish, Wallace, Polhill, Seaman, Lynch, Hopkins, Robson, Renwick, Hamilton-Fox, Golds, Gingell, Whatmore, Bentall.
This week Chichester make the first of three journeys to Kent in their final four games to play Medway, who have been knocked off top spot in the league after defeats to CS Rugby and Havant.