Chichester couldn’t quite make it back-to-back wins at Oaklands Park, losing 17-11 to Dartfordian in awful conditions.
They made eight changes to the team that beat Havant – Adam Geal, Josh Cameron, Luke Kemish, Henry Lock and Tyrese Makasi came into the pack with Kieran Richter, Joe Knight and Fin Bamber on the bench. Martin O’Callaghan took over the captaincy in Charlie Wallace’s absence.
The game started in near monsoon conditions between two teams at the wrong end of the table.
Chichester kicked off down the slope and immediately put Dartfordians under pressure with strong running and slick passing. A charge from Chris Johnson was illegally stopped and Charlie Norton slotted the penalty – 3-0.
From the restart the opposition advanced into the Blues’ half. At the first scrum it was clear Chichester were going to struggle to compete with Dartfordians’ pack. An infringement allowed Blues to clear and the kick found touch.
From the lineout Gareth Davies kicked long for supporters’ MoM Rhys Thompson to chase. Hesitation from the defender allowed Thompson to dot down to make it 8-0 after nine minutes.
Dartfordians soon had Chichester under pressure. An infringement provided them with an opportunity in kicking range which passed between the posts for 8-3.
Blues’ pack were having a torrid time in the scrum and giving away cheap penalties. Dartfordians went through the phases and eventually crossed the line but spirited defending prevented the ball from being grounded.
Chichester were pushed back from the 5m scrum and collapsed, resulting in a penalty try – 10-8. Blues woes continued when the restart went straight into touch and they were penalised from the subsequent scrum.
Blues had several forays into the opposition half with strong running from Johnson, Sam Renwick and Harry Seaman. Thompson made a blistering 30m run that eluded the opposition defence andit looked a certain try until he was brought down just inside the opposition 22 by a last-ditch tackle.
The first half ended early with a back injury to one of Chichester’s second row. Play was suspended for 25 minutes and the second half was played on the second XV pitch as the casualty was treated and then taken to hospital. He is now recovering at home.
In the second half, from a lineout a simple drive across the line in the corner, provided the visitors’ second try and a very good conversion from out wide – 17-8.
Blues up and running after derby win
Blues lose but positives shine through
The small band of Chichester faithful, braving the elements on the touchline, feared the worst. However, Blues put Dartfordians under significant pressure, keeping them hemmed in the opposition 22 for an extended period.
After multiple phases Chichester crossed the try line but the ball was deemed held up. With the exception of the scrum both sides were fairly evenly matched.
An infringement from Dartfordians gave Norton another opportunity which he kicked to make it 17-11.
Dartfordians started to look a little rattled, losing composure and giving away cheap penalties. However, it was not to be.
It ended with Dartfordians stealing the ball at the lineout and kicking into touch rather than attempting to drive over and denying Chichester the losing bonus point.
It was an entertaining game of rugby played in really atrocious conditions.
Thanks went to Dartfordians’ physio who looked after both teams in the second half, as Chi’s Jamie Thompson attended to the injured player.
Chichester have used 39 players in six matches and it is hoped a two-week break now will provide time for some of the injured players to return.
Chichester return to action on October 20 at high-flying Brighton.
Chichester: Geal, Cameron, Maxfield, Kemish, Lock, Johnson, Makasi, O’Callaghan, Seaman, Davies, Golds, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Richter, Knight, Bamber.
* In the Hampshire premier, Bognor won 17-13 at Fordingbridge despite having an injury-hit team.
It was a great result which put them third in the table.
The first XV have no match this week but host Gosport & Fareham seconds on October 20.