Chichester’s first run-out of the 2017-18 season at Oaklands Park – against a strong west-country outfit, Thornbury RFC – left new Blues head coach Scott Ashley content.
Ashley said: “There was lots to take away – lots to work on, but we responded well with several players really putting their hands up for selection.
“The attitude at training and in this game has really impressed me and I’m am sure we can build on it.”
Thornbury are coached by Olly Kohn, a former professional player who appeared alongside Chi’s Danny Gray, and play at level six in the south west so could give an ideal assessment of how the Blues are faring.
Pre-season had gone well with numbers building over the course of the summer but it’s only under real game pressure that new head coach Scott Ashley can really see how the training sessions transfer to a game.
Thornbury arrived with a squad of 30 off the back of a comfortable victory the week before and this showed as they started with a lot more cohesion than the Blues.
Chi looked dangerous with ball in hand on a couple of occasions but spurned the overlap for contact and one poor offload led to pressure from the away side and an early score.
The Blues responded twice but were falling foul of the referee’s interpretation of new laws which was halting any real progress.
With the penalty count rising, Thornbury took advantage with three quick tries and while Bentall and Johnson put in some massive tackles as a team the defensive pattern stuttered and lacked any real bite. The blues turned around at halfway unlucky to be 36-10 down.
Chichester were playing a lot of youngsters with three 17-year-olds and five 18-year-olds and the young guys really stepped in during the last two 30-minute quarterss.
The big squad of 35 all got game time and although not scoring in the third quarter, they were applying a lot of pressure.
In the fourth, the Blues really hit those straps scoring three excellent tries, and they rounded the game off with a well deserved penalty try. After six tries each the final score was 36-34.
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