A small group of Chichester coaches and supporters stood dumbfounded at the end of a game at Colchester which their team had dominated but somehow lost 19-18 in the last minutes.
They had just seen Chi take and miss their fifth kick out of six from the tee to try to clinch a win which would have taken them out of the bottom group in National three London south east.
The stark statistics show they scored three tries to one but from an 18-9 position in the second half and with a bonus win on the cards, they were overtaken by a converted try and a penalty with six minutes left.
Colchester’s kicker Crozier was successful with five tee kicks from six, the opposite to Chi.
The Blues had played some very good rugby with scrum and lineout working well and they had most of the attacking play. Colchester defended competently, they rucked hard and gained turnovers when under pressure in their 22.
All credit to them for taking their limited chances and bringing to an end a losing sequence. It was Chi’s second one-point defeat this season and the second time they have lost their way in Essex.
Despite the long journey, Chi were in confident mood after their win against Guernsey. The rain had relented and the pitch was reasonable with the odd muddy patch.
Phil Veltom was back at tighthead and Ed Bowden in the back row as Ben Polhill was unavailable.
Chi kicked off and were soon into their stride with Aaron Davies starting his lineout ascendancy and the backs feeling the ball. However they went off their feet at a ruck and Crozier stroked his first penalty through the uprights.
Chi attacked, with Rhys Thompson and Jack Maslen almost getting past and a couple of chargedowns making Colchester scramble. A penalty into the right corner gave catch and drive for the commanding Veltom to score the first try and make it 5-3 to Chi after 15 minutes.
The visitors ran from the back of their scrum and showed good handling in phases until the ball was lost in the tackle. Colchester countered and Richard Adams stopped danger with a fine tackle. There was strong combat on the ground for possession with no quarter given.
Adams joined the line from full-back but was felled in full flight. The ball was shifted crossfield but another promising attack failed because of a rushed final pass to the wing.
Against the run of play, Chi were penalised for a scrum binding offence and the successful kick put the home side back in the lead very briefly.
Chi moved the ball to the right flank and Maslen made a half break and passed to winger Dean Bonds. He grubber-kicked neatly and won the race to the line to touchdown.
Just before the break a Chi penalty struck the post and bounced away. It seemed to be another signal that they were not likely to have any luck. It was 10-6 at half-time but should have been more.
The Blues restarted and looked strong with Davis and Bowden reliable in the lineout but they were guilty of not clearing the dropout kick and being penalised in the ensuing ruck. Penalty to Colchester, three points taken.
Their full-back lofted a kick into space on the left and the catch was well made but Chi scrambled across to block progress. Another penalty was won and this time Crozier missed for the only time.
A fast Chi attack across the pitch resulted in a penalty award and a yellow card for the Colchester tighthead for a late tackle. Chi declined the kick and went for a corner lineout which failed.
They opted for the same soon after and this time the pack drove across for hooker Sean Shepherd to get their third try.
The replacements were used but the timing may not have been the best as Colchester attacked hard for only the second time and gained a try by prop Mitchell from lineout and drive. The conversion meant Chi were now threatened at 18-16.
A move by Alex Marsh, Adams and Thompson ended with a forward pass. Then they gave away a penalty at a breakdown and to a roar from the home crowd, Colchester had taken the lead.
In the last five minutes, Chi missed two penalties, with the kicker being changed for the very last but with the same result. It was just not their day and a lot of hard work and a decent performance had brought just a losing bonus point.
This week Chi face second-placed London Irish Amateur at home (2pm - note it is 2pm not 2.30pm as earlier reported). It will be a huge challenge and all support on the touchline would be most welcome.
CHICHESTER: Belcher, Shepherd, Veltom, Davies, O’Callaghan, Bowden, Ellaboudy, Johnson, Seaman, Gray, Jackson, Thompson, Maslen, Bonds, Adams, Woods, Arden-Brown, Marsh.
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