Chichester's Irish victory shows five years is a long time in rugby

Chichester beat London Irish Amateurs 38-14 in their latest Oaklands Park runout in London one south.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 2:00 pm
Eddie Jenkinson goes over for a try / Picture: Alison Tanner

The last visit to Oaklands Park by the men in emerald green shirts was more than five years ago, when they won comfortably. Fortunes were reversed this time and Chichester bagged six tries to two. That made it five wins from six home games and Blues moved fifth in the league.

They were without Rhys Thompson and Tyrese Makesi, both injured. Tom Blewitt was at full-back,Eddie Jenkinson returned in the centre and Jack Knight was promoted from the second XV at fly-half.

In cold and windy conditions Gareth Davies kicked off towards the clubhouse.Irish responded and advanced to the Chi 22 for a couple of attempts to breach their defence.But they were turned over and Blewitt kicked to the right touch.

Strength in number for the Blues / Picture: Alison Tanner

From the lineout, pick and go took the Blues to the try line and Ben Deavall pressed down strongly for the first try. Converted by Blewitt off the inside of the left upright, 7-0 after 10 minutes.

Irish went forward but lost possession again. After a half-break by a determined Harry Norton, the ball went quickly across the backs and a neat kick into Vultures’ Corner saw the flying Matt McLagan win the race to touch down. An Irish defender was yellow carded for pushing the scorer over off the ball – 12-0 after 24 minutes.

The Chi front row of Richard Ives, Josh Brown and Joe Woods were dominating the scrums and Zac Conley was soaring to win the lineouts.

The Irish left winger injured his knee close to the corner flag and after a long delay was stretchered off.

Matt McLagan on his way to his second try / Picture: Alison Tanner

Two more try-saving offences and the referee awarded a penalty try with automatic conversion points. It was 19-0 on the half-hour.

Irish hit back as bulky prop Harrison plunged over between the posts. Converted by veteran fly-half Prescott it was 19-7 at the break.

Blues restarted with Blewitt feeding McLagan then the lively Conley punched through a gap. The backs took it on and Jenkinson jinked inside a tackler for another try towards the corner. Converted by Blewitt, 26-7.

Chi were in complete control and an excellent miss-pass from Blewitt sent McLagan on his way. He tore up the left like a cheetah with extra swerves to bemuse worried tacklers and crashed across again.

Blewitt’s conversion was magnificent from the touchline and despite the squally wind to make it 33-7. Soon, a neat blindside move by the forwards gave a try to hard working Brown, 38-7.

Irish rolled up their sleeves and went for a consolation try. It was achieved after efficient linking across the pitch, second rower Cassis forcing his way over the try line, giving Prescott another easy conversion.

McLagan,Blewitt, Conley and the front row had especially good games. Ray Farr and Ollie Larson had made debuts off the bench. Captain Charlie Wallace suffered concussion and had to go off quite early.

This week Blues are home again against Battersea Ironsides, all support welcome.

Report by Roger Gould