Two match-free weekends have not suited the Blues
After two rest weekends, Chichester slipped to a 27-19 defeat against Medway at Oaklands Park on an autumnal afternoon.
Despite recent rainfall the pitch was firm and the ranks of the Chichester faithful were swelled by a large contingent of travelling supporters from Kent.
Blues made four changes to the team that beat KCS Old Boys in monsoon conditions at the beginning of October.
Alex Margarson and Tim Cook came into the backs with Josh Cameron and Freddy Slater, set for his 1st XV debut, on the bench.
Rhys Thompson’s long kick-off up the slope was fumbled by the receiver, providing Chichester with the pu- in at the scrum on the 10m line. The forwards advanced the ball towards the try line with a series of pick and goes and an unstoppable Joe Woods crashed over the line for a try. Ciaran Johnston who slotted the conversion. 7-0 and 75 seconds on the clock.
Shortly after the restart Blues infringed at the breakdown giving Medway the opportunity to get their first points on the scoreboard, 7-3.
What followed was 25 minutes of unremarkable rugby. Although it was played almost exclusively in the Chichester half, Medway were limited to moving the ball sideways by a great Blues’ defensive effort and only made forward progress from infringements, but were unable to capitalise.
On 30 minutes the opposition moved the ball across the pitch in their own half to their speedy winger, who dodged four tackles in a 30 metre run, and offloaded for a try under the posts. Converted, 7-10.
A rare foray by Blues inside the opposition 22m line resulted in an infringement and 30 seconds later they were defending a lineout on their own five-metre line. Rather than their pack driving the ball across the line Medway hoisted a crossfield kick which was juggled and touched down by their speedy winger. Converted, 7-17 at half-time and concern among the Chichester faithful that with poor handling and a misfiring lineout the match could become a rout.
The first action of the second half involved the referee who tweaked a calf muscle. Unable to continue, Simon Bradford, Blues under-eights coach, volunteered to take over.
It was a different Chichester who started the second half and, with their lineout now functioning, Medway spent the next 20 minutes defending.
On 6,3 Medway were awarded a penalty five metres out but elected to kick, 7-20. The opposition hammered away at the Blues’ defence for more than 10 minutes before another cross-field move outflanked them for a try under the posts. Converted, 7-27.
Chichester upped the tempo winning a lineout 12 metres from the Medway try line.
The ball was won by a soaring Charlie Wallace who brought it down for a driving maul.
The forwards were joined by Ben Robson and Eddie Jenkinson as the maul headed for the line and it was Jenkinson who dotted down. Conversion missed, 12-27.
With three minutes left Blues were awarded a penalty on their own 22m line.
Woods received the short throw and the ball was worked across the field before a long pass from Johnston missed out two players, to create the overlap, and put Ross Miller in at the corner. An excellent conversion from the touchline made it 19-27.
That was the end of the scoring and at the final whistle the Medway supporters initiated three cheers for the stand-in referee.
Medway were the better team in the first half, especially with their speed and efficiency at the breakdowns.
However, Chichester tackled well across the pitch and did well to limit the deficit to ten points at the break. Blues had a significantly better second half but fell just short of a losing bonus point.
MoM was Ciaran Johnston.
Chichester go to Hammersmith and Fulham this Saturday (3pm).