Chichester fall short in promotion clash

ThE trip to Old Elthamians was a must-win game for Chichester in the London one south title race - but they were well beaten 34-12 by a very powerful team in top form.

Chichester worked hard to get back into it in the second half but the hosts were strong. Their backs took their chances clinically and the forwards defended their line with huge tackles.

Chichester kept plugging away but two kicked penalties and the outcome of a third cost them 13 points.

Chichester slipped to third place in the league behind Guernsey – who visit Oaklands Park on March 24 – and OEs.

Without Jack Taggart and Chris Johnson, Chichester reshuffled. Ash Wheeler and Nick Shopland propped, Phil Veltom went into second row and Scott Barlow was at No8 in the backs.

Ski Sauliga was at inside centre and Richard Deed moved to the right wing.

Up the slope, the Blues started brightly. Sauliga had a run along the line and Chichester won their own lineout and drove forward in OEs’ 22. But penalties conceded for delaying and offside slowed them. Another offside just inside their own half led to OEs full-back T White slotting the points.

Toby Golds made a flying tackle to stop the right winger and was in action again to take a pass from Toone before he was flattened by a dangerous tackle and received lengthy attention. There was a yellow card for the offender.

The Blues had ten good minutes, putting heavy pressure on the home defence which held on but killed the ball several times near the corner. The referee awarded Chichester a penalty try, Stuart Pearham adding the extras.

White kicked a penalty for what may have been crossing by Chichester. A bad Chi lineout gave OEs their chance for a drive maul followed by a scrum.

Fly-half Vaughan took a quick pass and made a clean break, passing for Williams to sprint over for the first try. The conversion was added by White.

Left winger R White was nearly over when high tackled by Richard Adams. It is debatable whether it was dangerous but a penalty was given and Adams saw yellow. Opting for the scrum ten metres out and the same distance in from touch, the OEs pack pushed hard to give quick ball.

Vaughan’s step and jink to touch down and a conversion made it 20-7 at the break, after which Veltom, Barlow and Moses Kasujja resumed their normal positions at tighthead, lock and No8. Andy Gray joined the back row.

Chichester drove with confidence but suffered from knock-ons. Tom Polhill got over the gain line but support was not close enough.

Blount crashed through a gap near touch only to be poleaxed. OEs lock Shepheard went off to the sin bin.

At their lineout over halfway, OEs’ No8 caught the ball and found inside centre Lewis and a brilliant long pass found R White, with space and speed to go over.

The Blues refused to give up but Veltom received a nasty mouth injury and had to go off. Shopland returned.

Pearham should have cleared his lines from within the 22 but tried to stab the ball past the OEs centres. The ball went straight to one and he fed right winger Smith for a bonus-point try. For the last five minutes Chichester hammered at the try line and got over with the last play, Rob Lawrence claiming it. The conversion kick by Jamie Knowles drifted wide.

Chichester must now concentrate on winning their last four games.

CHICHESTER: Wheeler, Lawrence, Shopland, Veltom, Blount, Kasujja, B Polhill, Barlow, Toone, Pearham, Golds, Sauliga, T Polhill, Deed, Adams, Gray, Wagstaff, Knowles.

ROGER GOULD