Blewitt doesn't blow it for Blues: In-form Chichester produce more late drama
There was another thrilling finish at Oaklands Park as Chichester snatched a 23-22 win over London Cornish with a converted try two minutes from the end.
In silence, Tom Blewitt calmly struck the ball through the posts and the roar from the crowd must have been heard in the city centre.
Cornish had been the better team for 55 minutes and led by 22-9. Then Blues showed their resilience, with waves of attacks, and pounded a heroic and equally determined defence until it was at last broken.
Blewitt kicked five tee shots and this was Chi’s eighth home win in nine games.
It came a week after Chi secured their first away win of the season against KCS Old Boys, with a late Blewitt penalty kick.
Zac Conoly and Nick Blount came into the pack, Josh Goodwin and Matt McLagan returned in the backs with Shaun Baker on the bench.
Chichester started down the slope and conceded a penalty inside three minutes, but the kick fell short.
Five minutes later it was the visitors’ turn to concede allowing Blewitt to stroke the ball through the uprights for the first score. Cornish spent the next 12 minutes camped in the Blues’ half probing. Chichester conceded a number of penalties but somehow held out, eventually turning over the ball on the try line and clearing.
A try-saving tackle by Ben Deavall and a couple of wayward final passes delayed Cornish opening their account. Finally, Blues were caught offside allowing the visitors to level at 3-3.
Two minutes later Cornish stole the ball at the lineout and it found its way to the right winger, who jinked through the defence to dot down. Conversion missed.
On 26 minutes a Cornish infringement gave Blewitt a chance to narrow the gap with his left boot.
Cornish mounted an attack with the outside centre outstripping the Blues’ defence to touch down in the corner, converted for 6-15.
The Blues mounted their first sustained attack which resulted in a yellow card for the visitors. Cornish started the second half strongly and it was against the run of play when a Chichester break on 51 minutes was stopped illegally and the referee produced another yellow card. Blewitt duly slotted the penalty to make it 9-15.
Four minutes later Chichester lost a man to the sin bin. Cornish kicked to touch for the lineout then drove over the line close to the posts for their third try, converted for a 9-22 lead.
This seemed to spur on Chichester and they started to put the visitors under real pressure. Great work from Joe Woods, Conoly and Martin O’Callaghan saw Blues cross the line twice but both times the ball was held up.
On 73 minutes the visitors lost another player to the sin bin. The Chichester pack crossed the line for a third time and Ben Polhill was on hand to touchdown close to the posts, converted by Blewitt and it was 16-22.
There was relief among the home supporters that a losing bonus point had been secured.
A Cornish infringement provided Blues with a lineout which was won by Conoly whose pass found Woods in space. The prop burst forward making 15 metres before passing to Harry Seaman, whose offload found Tyrese Makasi on the touchline.
The young hooker beat two defenders to touch down in Vultures’ Corner. A difficult kick from out wide was converted by Blewitt with two minutes left.
Despite a couple of heart-stopping moments, Chichester closed the match out for their ninth victory of the season and four points as Dan Callaghan picked up the man of the match.
Chichester: Deavall, Makasi, Woods, Conoly, Blount, Polhill, Wallace, O’Callaghan, Goodwin, Davies, McLagan, Seaman, Blewitt, Rowland, C Norton, Drayson, Spriggs, Baker.
Chichester travel to Kent to face Westcombe Park on Saturday (2pm).