Slow start costs Blues dear

Chichester lost a National three London south east game 39-24 to their fellow strugglers by five tries, four conversions and two penalties to three converted tries and a penalty.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:16 pm
Action from Chi's tussle with Westcliff / Picture by Derek Martin

Despite all they tried, the Blues never recovered from a shocking first 20 minutes when they conceded three of the tries through basic errors.

Westcliff were very determined from the outset and deserved the bonus-point win. They were very together as a unit and managed their game well, whereas Chi’s forwards and backs did not link and appeared to operate independently.

The Blues were greatly troubled by the rolling mauls which the visitors had obviously practised and this gave Westcliff strategic positions when needed.

Highlights in the match were the tee kicks by Westcliff’s Jones, who landed six from seven, and by Chi’s Taff Davies, who put away all four of his.

Loosehead prop Ben Deavall had a fine game for Chi, his scrummaging and carrying confirmed his potential at this level. However, Chi have conceded 20 tries in their past four matches and scored just six. They must start winning – or else.

Tom Belcher returned in the front row, but Chi have seven players on the injured list and head coach Rob Lawrence had to dig deep to assemble the squad.

Army man Ski Sauliga played his first home game for four seasons and Matt Woodhouse made his home debut. Backs coach Danny Gray came in at inside centre and Don Farmer moved to the right wing.

Conditions were good in the sun as Chi attacked into the 22 and had four phases before they were turned over. A high kick from the Westcliff scrum-half was dropped.

A kick to the left corner followed and lineout ball delivered for drives to the line and a try for lock Jobling, who ignored a weak tackle. It was converted.

Chi went forward but a knock-on and a pass straight to touch set the tone. Another Westcliff high-kick was fumbled and they moved the ball from the scrum across the pitch before setting a driving maul which rumbled over for their flanker Maloney to touch down. The conversion made it 14-0.

Deavall, Mark Giddings and Sauliga carried play to the other end but Chi were penalised at the scrum. The next penalty took the visitors to the right touchline and lineout ball for their backs to open space and No8 Vandermolen dived over for the third try, near the left corner. Conversion missed.

At 19-0 down it was time for Chi to wake up and attempt a comeback.

A good Richard Adams kick and Phil Dickin catch sent Deavall and Giddings carrying and the pack hammered the try line with drives and pick and go. After several attempts, Ski finally pressed down and it was converted.

Gray made a 25m break and a penalty won for offside was kicked by Davies to make it 19-10.

Westcliff continued to use their rolling maul and their backs showed safe hands and firm tackles. Ski was sinbinned for entering at the side, followed by a straight red card for the Westcliff near-side flanker for kicking someone on the ground.

At half-time Chi were looking better and there was hope the deficit could be overhauled.

A bad restart saw Chi infringe at the breakdown and the penalty was kicked. They replied with a fast move, the backs using long passes to send Woodhouse galloping to Vulture’s Corner.

He skilfully twisted out of a last tackle to score at the flag. The conversion made it 22-17.

Sauliga returned and now Westcliff were playing with 14 against 15. It made them even more determined.

A Chi attack was disrupted and they were penalised for a high tackle, the penalty beautifully converted.

Two more mistakes brought more pressure on Chi from a lineout .They defended strongly and won back possession but incredibly tried to run the ball from their own try line and another pass sailed into touch.

This time Westcliff made no mistake and the ball was shifted into the centre for a fine cross-kick to the right winger. He evaded a tackler too easily and he crossed at the corner and ran around to dot down – 32-17 after the conversion.

Chi continued with hard running to penetrate but Ross Miller at outside centre met full-blooded tackles.Slick handling resulted in a smart try by Jak Evans, converted.

A gilt edged chance for a losing bonus point was wasted when the overlap was created but the final pass went astray.

Two more Chi offences for in-at-the-side and not releasing at the tackle gave penalties and a position for Westcliff forwards to link well and Reynolds scored their fifth try and Jones to complete his performance with the conversion.

There’s plenty for Chi to ponder and they now have a rest week before they travel to Amersham and Chiltern on November 19 for another vital game. There’s room on the coach for supporters.

Chichester: Deavall, Giddings, Belcher, O’Callaghan, Blount, Dickin, Bowden, Sauliga, Anscombe, Adams, Woodhouse, Gray, Miller, Farmer, Davies, Woodworth, Lumbard, Evans.


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