Chichester put up a brave fight against London one south high flyers Medway – but ended losing 30-19.
They made nine changes with Sam Drayson, Dane Gingell, Joe Woods, Jon Lindsay, Ryan Boulton and Ed Bowden coming into the pack, Sam Renwick and Matt McLagan in the backs and Phil Veltom on the bench.
Chi received the ball from the kick-off and Chris Johnson headed off down the slope, cutting a swathe through the Medway defence.
A further carry from Jon Lindsay provided Henry Anscombe with the ball for a cross-field kick that found touch on the 22m line.
Medway knocked on from the lineout and were penalised from the subsequent scrum. The ball was kicked to touch for a lineout 5m from the Medway try line.
Having secured the ball from the throw Blues had it stolen and an infringement allowed the visitors to clear.
Soon Medway were in Vultures’ Corner looking for the first score but were thwarted by a tackle from Ben Robson. A timely interception by Sam Renwick provided Blues’ respite, but Medway came again and a ball out to their impressive left winger provided their first try.
Chichester upped the tempo and contained the opposition. Sam Drayson made ground towards the try line. The ball was recycled by Harry Seaman to Anscombe and on to Rhys Thompson, whose exaggerated dummy wrongfooted two defenders and created space for him to squeeze through and dot down. The conversion by Charlie Norton made it 7-5.
The next 12 minutes were played in the Blues half, but resolute defending repelled Medway.
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An attempted interception deemed to be a deliberate knock-on brought the Blues a yellow card. Soon the ball was zipped across the field to the Medway No6, who cut back through the defence to score under the posts.
Chichester again upped the tempo and eventually Drayson made it to the try line to score. It was converted from wide by Norton for a 14-12 lead. Phil Veltom joined the fray but another infringement by the Blues brought another yellow card, keeping them a man short. The penalty was converted and Medway led 15-14 at the break.
The Blues’ defence was solid early in the second half and an error from the visitors on the left wing allowed Matt McLagan to mount an attack. Gareth Davies and Thompson sent Robson on his way but an inside pass to beat the last defender was knocked on.
Chi again infringed within kicking range – penalty converted.
As in the first half Chichester raised the tempo from the restart. Johnson charged through the Medway defence making 25m before being stopped.
A series of pick and goes got Chi to within a metre of the try line. The ball was recycled to Davies and on to Thompson whose long pass bounced perfectly in front of McLagan, who collected and touched down in the corner – 19-18.
For the next 17 minutes both teams put in significant effort without reward. A Chichester clearance kick was charged down and the visitors won the foot race to score and they led 23-19.
Soon the ball was passed to the Medway right winger on the 22m line who jinked his way through Blues’ defence and was stopped by a high tackle. The referee awarded a penalty try and produced a yellow card.
It was a thoroughly entertaining game of rugby. Perhaps the outcome would have been different if Blues had played with a full complement for 80 minutes.
Supporters’ man of the match was Drayson.
Chichester: Drayson, Gingell, Woods, Lindsay, Boulton, Bowden, Polhill, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe (Capt.), Robson, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Veltom, Magda, Davies.
Chichester travel to Camberley on Saturday – 2pm start.