CHICHESTER completed their second mission towards National three London south east safety with a bonus-point 29-14 win on their first visit to Eton Manor’s ground in east London.
They worked hard to beat a determined and physical side who never gave up. Manor had their fair share of possession and territory but were let down by their failure to finish moves by their backs.
Chi were more cohesive and took their chances, scoring four tries, three conversions and a penalty to two converted tries.
Their outstanding players were Henry Anscombe and Jack Arden-Brown, whose ex-Chi player fathers were watching from the touchline.
It was quite an exciting contest with open rugby and end-to-end attacks.
Chi have moved up one place in the league as Bracknell’s game was cancelled. They have two more important games this month and intend to continue their recovery aided by as much support as possible.
It was a bright afternoon with a moderate cross-wind and the pitch in decent condition for running.
Phil Veltom was at tighthead, Arden-Brown at hooker, Richard Adams moved to fly-half, Paddy MacEnri came on to the left wing, Toby Golds to full-back and Dean Bonds returned on the right wing.
Chi tackled and drove from the kick-off. Chris Johnson and Martin O’Callaghan carried and Jack Maslen was tackled just short of the try line. They cleared from a Manor attack with help from a clean lineout catch by Jack Bentall.
An Anscombe grubber-kick was well stopped and cleared, then a forward pass ended a move in the centre. Chi kicked forward a loose ball, Rhys Thompson picked up and ran hard, managing an offload to the supporting Johnson to get the first try. Anscombe converted.
Chi passed well and from a lineout Anscombe was nearly across. Another throw at the corner, a Bentall catch, two drives and O’Callaghan was over. Anscombe converted from wide out to make it 14-0 after 20 minutes.
Manor started to look dangerous with their excellent scrum-half sniping and releasing their backs. A breakout put their left winger on a charge to the line but Golds tackled him just in time.
They pressed for five minutes and although a thrust from a first tap penalty was stopped illegally, the second led to a floated pass to the right and quick passes to dive over. Scrum-half Reed converted.
Johnson had a strong run and offloaded but the ball was lost in a tackle. Golds received a big hit and went off, replaced by Harry Seaman. Manor broke through the centre again but lost the ball against vulnerable defence.
Johnson and Arden-Brown carried deep into the Manor 22, setting up position, and Adams took quick ball from Anscombe to accelerate and bisect the Manor centres.
He offloaded nicely to MacEnri to finish at the left flag. 19-7. Then Blues suffered two more injuries, O’Callaghan limping off with a pulled calf muscle and Maslen not feeling at all well.
Omar Ellaboudy moved to lock, Sean Shepherd replaced him at flanker and the backs had to be rearranged.
Chi started to use Aaron Davies in the lineout which continued to do well and the scrum was getting the nudge at the put-ins. But Manor pressed on the left flank and Chi were happy to hear the half-time whistle. It was 19-7 at the break.
Golds would return but not the others and the reorganisation could cause problems.
Anscombe launched the biggest touch-kick in the match and this was followed by a fine catch by Arden-Brown from a towering up-and-under fired by Manor.
Chi attacked from a scrum, followed by a penalty to the left corner. The drive went in but Veltom was held up inches short. Scrum and backs probed, Seaman held in the centre but the ball was recycled and Golds grabbed the fourth try and bonus point near the right corner.
Anscombe converted beautifully from the touchline for 26-7.
Manor spun the ball several times across their backs and Reed kept making ground with darting runs, but they made mistakes with final passes going to ground or grubbers not accurate enough.
Joe Woods had been strong as usual in the front row but he had to go off after a knock at the coalface.
Marius Greyvensteyn replaced him, the South African prop having recovered from a serious neck injury.
Chi defended against Manor raids and Golds had to make a scrambling tackle. Tempers frayed and a Manor centre and Johnson were given yellow cards.
Play ebbed and flowed but Manor took advantage of some open space to score on the left, converted by Reed.
Chi went to the other end, Arden-Brown barrelled forward and a penalty was awarded. Anscombe succeeded with a terrific kick from wide out for 29-14.
Manor had 15 minutes left and the cry went up that two scores could bring a losing bonus. A slog developed with runs and clearances by both teams.
Manor knocked on at the posts and after Thompson had tackled hard Adams cleared the lines with a big touch-kick.
Veltom was given a swipe to the jaw but thought nothing of it. Maslen came back on for the last minutes.
The final attack was a concerted one by Chi as they pressed to the line for a possible fifth try with two lineouts and drives but Johnson was felled by a very suspicious tackle. The whistle blew, the job was done.
After a Saturday off, Chi host Wimbledon at Oaklands Park. The Blues would appreciate massive support.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Arden-Brown, Veltom, O’Callaghan, Davies, Ellaboudy, Bentall, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, MacEnri, Thompson, Maslen, Bonds, Golds, Greyvensteyn, Shepherd, Seaman.
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