While another defeat - this one 33-18 at home to Camberley - is disappointing for everyone involved at Chichester, positives can be drawn from this loss.
Chichester’s tackling and support at the breakdown was impressive with the forwards and backs combining well to move the ball around quickly in atrocious conditions.
With Chi’s current injury crisis it has been necessary to call on the services of a number of players who were in the Colts only last season. They have all stepped up and performed magnificently and fans are proud of them.
Chichester made ten changes – Josh Cameron, Alex Taylor, Callum Gibson, Ben Polhill and Martin O’Callaghan came into the pack, Fin Bamber started at scrum half, Eddie Jenkinson joined the backs with Josh Brown, Henry Lock and Tim Cook on the bench.
The match was played in persistent rain and Chichester kicked off but were soon under pressure. A clearance kick was gathered by the Camberley full-back, who was tackled into touch.
The Chichester lineout was knocked on and from the scrum the Blues were unable to counter the Camberley pack, conceding a penalty. Camberley kicked for touch but from the lineout their attack faltered.
Chichester struggled to compete against the heavier Camberley pack and it needed quick hands and the boot of Rhys Thompson to clear. From the lineout Camberley’s driving maul was stopped illegally and a penalty conceded but the kick for touch was poor.
The Blues started to pass the ball around and reached the opposition half. Camberley conceded a penalty 20 metres out and Chi led 3-0.
Chichester were growing in confidence and Sam Drayson and Ben Polhill made good ground. From a ruck on the 22m line the ball passed through four pairs of Chichester hands with an inside pass to Thompson beating the Camberley full-back for the try – 8-0.
Camberley mounted a concerted attack but the combination of an organised Chichester defence and their poor handling slowed their progress. But after 27 minutes they found a gap to dot down and it was converted – 8-7.
For the next ten minutes the Chichester’s defence contained the opposition. But then an infringement provided a lineout ten metres out and Camberley’s pack powered towards the line for their second try 14-8.
A Matt McLagan interception moved Chichester to within ten metres of the try line but they were unable to increase their score.
In the second half a clever grubber kick to the corner from Gareth Davies was mishandled by the opposition defender and Alex Margarson was on hand to touch down. Conversion missed, 14-13.
The quality of the Chichester handling had deteriorated but until the 52nd minute the powerful Camberley outside centre had been contained, but finally he used his speed to break two tackles for a try under the posts, converted for 21-13.
A period of sustained Chi pressure was interspersed with knock-ons and opposition infringements. The breakthrough came with Chichester conceding a penalty five metres out and Camberley kicking for touch.
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The ball was stolen at the lineout by Polhill who recovered the lost ground. From the ruck the ball was moved across the pitch for Davies to put in a beautiful kick to the corner which bounced in front of McLagan, who squeezed in at the corner. Conversion missed, 21-18.
Chichester enjoyed an extended period in the opposition 22 without capitalising. Eventually, Camberley cleared their lines and went over the Blues’ 22m line after a powerful run from their right wing. Chichester were left defending for all their worth.
Camberley’s superiority in the scrum was increasing the penalty count against Blues and the ref produced a yellow card. The scrum was reset and Chichester were pushed back over their try line, conversion missed but it was 26-18.
Chichester attackedfrom the restart and won with a penalty. The kick was just wide. In the dying moments Camberley’s pack went through the phases to score a fifth try, which was converted.
Chichester: Drayson, Cameron, Maxfield, Taylor, Gibson, Polhill, Wallace, O’Callaghan, Bamber, Davies, McLagan, Thompson, Margarson, Jenkinson, Norton, Brown, Lock, Cook.
This Saturday (September 29) sees Chichester entertain Havant at Oaklands Park (3pm).