After a week off, Chichester couldn’t return to action with a win - and lost 20-10 away to Medway in Rochester.
The Blues made seven changes - Tyrese Makasi, Joe Knight and Ben Polhill came into the pack, Gareth Davies and Liam Rowland returned in the backs with Josh Cameron and Baz Magda on the bench.
After the inclement weather of recent weeks, the Medway groundsman should be congratulated for the immaculately prepared pitch.
Chichester started with a kick to the Medway 22m line. The ball popped out of the ruck and Polhill was quickest to react, driving forward another 15m before being held.
Harry Seaman recycled the ball quickly at the breakdown and it passed through the hands of Charlie Wallace, Davies and Stuart Baker before being gathered one-handed by Ben Robson, who crossed the line and dotted down with only 30 seconds on the clock. It was converted by Baker.
Blues carried the ball into touch and conceded a penalty from the subsequent lineout, within easy kicking distance.
For the next 35 minutes both teams ran the ball at every opportunity as play moved up and down the pitch. The defensive effort from both teams was immense and several try-scoring opportunities were missed when final passes were knocked on or went astray.
With two minutes left in the first half Chichester conceded a penalty 25 metres out. The Medway scrum half took the tap penalty and caught Blues’ defence napping to score a simple try, converted for a 10-7 lead.
The first 11 minutes of the second half were played exclusively in the Chichester half with Medway applying the pressure and Blues unable to cross the halfway line.
The home side finally got their breakthrough when the ball was played from the back of a driving maul and out across the backs to the winger, who stepped his tackler to dot down in the corner. It was converted from the touchline and it was 17-7.
The response from Chichester was instant, with a clever grubber kick from Matt McLagan giving Blues a lineout on the opposition 22m line. After several phases of play Medway conceded a penalty in front of the posts, which Baker kicked – 17-10 with 25 minutes to play.
Another grubber kick, this time from Davies, was touched down by Medway and from the resulting five-metre scrum Blues went through several phases close to the try line but couldn’t cross the whitewash.
Medway’s next attack was stopped illegally five metres out in front of the posts, for a simple kick and three points with 65 minutes on the clock.
Again Chichester responded and looked the most likely to score as they spent more than ten minutes in the opposition half looking for an opening.
The Blues were now dominant in the scrum and runs from Polhill, Sam Drayson and Davies made significant territorial gains but the well drilled Medway defence held firm.
With two minutes left an infringement at the breakdown provided Chichester with a penalty 25m out but the kick was pushed just wide.
The Blues will have left Kent on disappointed they didn’t get something out of a very close and entertaining game. It was one of their best team performances of the season with some great defensive work against a side likely to be in the promotion mix.
Chichester drop to eighth place. Supporters’ MoM was Davies.
Chichester: Drayson, Makasi, Woods, Lindsay, Knight, B Polhill, Wallace, Johnson, Seaman, Davies, McLagan, Baker, Robson, Rowland, Trodd, Cameron, Magda, Spriggs.
* This week (Nov 16) Chichester entertain Dartfordians at Oaklands Park (2.30pm).