Super Blues create their own National League record run
Chichester left the field to warm applause from their supporters after setting their new club record of five straight wins at National three level with an 18-10 success over Westfield.
They have secured another season in this league with five games left but they struggled against a determined Westcliff, who had an outside chance of avoiding relegation.
The Blues reversed the score when they lost at Westcliff in November. They won deservedly by two tries, a conversion and two penalties to a converted try and a penalty.
It would have been easier but they missed three try-scoring chances in the second half. They now have 44 league points and are in ninth place.
The day was bright but showery and a swirly wind gave no advantage to either side.
Chi were forced to make changes and university players Dom Farmer, Matt McLagan and George Luckett made home debuts. Danny Kirkpatrick came on to the bench.
The Blues made a perfect start, winning the ball from their kick-off. A penalty to the corner, catch and turn by Aaron Davies, driving maul and hooker Sean Shepherd scored after one minute.Conversion missed.
The visitors replied with a penalty from 25 metres by full back Dudman.
He missed a second when Chi were penalised at a ruck.Westcliff pressed and their backs handled neatly but were met by firm tackles.
Chris Johnson broke free from his retreating scrum and like a human cannonball skittled tacklers in a 40m run along the left touchline. The ball was sent out to the backs and the Redruth rocket Dean Bonds ran and kicked on, forcing a defender into touch.
A lineout and drive maul led to flanker Ben Polhill pressing down - and that’s now thev 20th consecutive season in which he has scored a try for the first XV. A good conversion by Richard Adams made it 12-3.
Jack Maslen and Bonds combined along the right, the ball was moved inside to Davies and Johnson but finally knocked on.
Westcliff showed their fighting spirit with several minutes of pressure in the Chi 22, forwards and backs handling. It was a testing period for the Chi defence but they held.
Westcliff should have scored at Vulture’s Corner but knocked on. Chi’s scrum had some uneasy moments but managed to retain from their put-in.
The lineout had settled and it was a keen contest between jumpers Jack Bentall and Davies against their opponents. But injuries to Luckett and Ellaboudy meant reorganisation into the second half.
Just before the break Chi advanced with a slick move before it ended 15 metres out.
Kirkpatrick had to play at scrum-half, Shepherd moved back in the scrum and Tom Belcher replaced him at the coal-face.
Chi attacked immediately and inside centre Rhys Thompson made a huge break and offloaded to Maslen, who cut inside for a likely score – but a last-ditch tackle brought him down.
Chi rucked and the chance was still there but a pass went forward. Chi increased the tempo and the backs forced an infringement.
Adams stroked the penalty high and handsome between the uprights to make it 15-3.
Maslen was replaced by Farmer at centre and Kirkpatrick cleared splendidly from a Westcliff attack. Thompson made two more brilliant breaks using his step and swerve, but the chances were spoilt by a knock-on and a forward pass.
Both Bonds and Tom Jackson caught high kicks by Westcliff and ran back hard. A penalty was awarded which should have been taken for three more points but Chi opted to run it and were stopped near the line.
Suddenly Westcliff benefitted from a mix-up by Chi on the attack and burst out with three passes and speedy running taking them 75 metres for Merrick to score behind the posts. It was a remakable try which caught Chi’s defence napping. Conversion by Dudman – 15-10.
He missed a penalty for silly back-chat by Chi to the referee. Another miss followed soon after which was fortunate for Blues.
Chi advanced and a kick to the try line was nearly finished off by the chasing Bentall but drop-out was awarded. Bentall again and Jackson went close with solo runs before Chi won a penalty which Adams converted to great cheers from supporters crowded on the extended clubhouse balcony. After a rest this week, Chi travel to fourth-placed East Grinstead for a challenging Sussex derby. All support would be well appreciated, kick-off 3pm.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Shepherd, Veltom, Davies, Farmer, Polhill, Bentall, Johnson, Luckett, Adams, Jackson, Thompson, Maslen, McLagan, Bonds, Belcher, Ellaboudy, Kirkpatrick.
This Sunday sees the Chi RFC Colts National plate quarter-final versus Devon side Kingsbridge. With no game for the firsts on Saturday, the Blues hope plenty will turn out for this game to get their weekend rugby fix. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
On Sunday morning under-seven to under-nine teams from across the south will converge on Oaklands Park for one of Chichester’s twice-annual festivals of rugby for juniors. Spectators are welcome to watch the action, from 10am.
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