Blues blown away by a ruthless Chobham
CHICHESTER received a dose of their own medicine when they were blown away by supercharged Chobham in the first half and they eventually went down 53-10 in their London on south clash.
The Surrey Cup holders were in great form and they scored a total of eight tries, five conversions and a penalty to two tries.
This was the Blues’ biggest loss for many years and the team and supporters came away shell-shocked.
They were outplayed by an extremely powerful outfit which has been rebuilt in the last two seasons with several players recruited with National 1 experience. Only two players remain from their former squad and they look a very good bet to win this league and complete back-to-back promotions.
Their record is now 20 games without defeat,including last season’s run. In this game they were a class above and their outstanding player was open side flanker Hamilton who scored a hat-trick of tries.
Chi tried hard to narrow the gap in the second period and played with great heart but the home defence was strong apart from its infringements to prevent tries. The Blues did get a couple, but Chobham were still able to counter with pace and score three.
Blues were without Ben Polhill and Niall Goldie in the back row, Phil Dickin moved to blindside flanker and Charlie Wallace made his debut on the other flank. Captain Jon Lindsay was at lock returning from injury.
Early exchanges were even and after Reds had missed a penalty, Sam Renwick stretched his legs in the centre.
A Reds attack swung right, the defence was drawn in and Hamilton came through to take the pass and score. Chi’s lineout mess began with Reds disrupting Nick Blount’s attempts with their long arms and a deflection gave the chance to lock Sammut to charge through and go over unopposed. Try converted by fly half Seers.
Quick ball and slick handling by Reds backs going left saw Hamilton fast up in support to cross again for a converted try.
Chi tried an ambitious backs move which was intercepted by Seers and he cantered to the line from 35 metres for the fourth and bonus try which was converted.
The lineout chaos was repeated and the rangy Sammut ran again for his second try with conversion slotted.
Jack Bentall was brought back from a promising break due to a forward pass and Leon Driscoll had to make a good clearance kick as Reds threatened once more and led 31-0 at half-time.
Blues resumed after listening to some plain advice but had bad luck very soon when they were accidentally offside when raiding and Reds took full advantage.
A long touch kick, a solid maul and transfer by good hands was finished off clinically by full-back Guy.
Chi rolled up their sleeves and started to hit back. Chris Johnson carried and battered his way forward beating first tackle, Belcher took it on and after three phases, Henry Anscombe passed outside to put Driscoll in at the left corner.
They went again and Driscoll was tackled out by Reds just in time. Sadly, hard work was undone when Reds countered, lineout and maul with lightning release to the left wing for the touch down, with conversion.
Two Reds’ forwards were sin binned and a Chi try seemed to have been scored with a firm drive over but the referee ruled it had been held up.
Finally Anscombe and Johnson fed hooker Mark Giddings to score a deserved try at the left corner flag. Reds stirred in the last five minutes to demonstrate their fitness and speed.
They kicked a penalty from 25 metres and the last nail in the coffin was Hamilton seizing the ball yet again from the back of the lineout to cross for a try and conversion.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “Chobham were very very strong – their forwards were probably the best I’ve seen in this league with several stepping down the leagues from level three to play at our level six – complemented by a solid set of backs and we were up against it.
“The side in the ascendency always seem to get the rub of the green and all three of their early tries should have been cancelled out for forward passes and a massive offside.
“But once we were three scores down it was a case of showing some pride – I was proud of our guys for the heart they showed in the second half, but it was too little too late. On that form Chobham will be the team to beat”