Chichester’s Becks appeal is there for all to see

New vice-captain Billy Toone gets Beckenham back-tracking at Oaklands Park
New vice-captain Billy Toone gets Beckenham back-tracking at Oaklands Park

In perfect conditions, Chichester cruised to a 50-7 win at home to Beckenham in their first London one south game of the season.

They scored eight tries and five conversions but the spectacle was rather spoiled by many handling mistakes, too much aerial ping-pong and several injuries.

The Blues forwards carried on last season’s dominant form with their strong front row of Nick Shopland, Rob Lawrence and Phil Veltom asserting their authority quickly and the back row fast in attack and defence.

Lineout men Scott Barlow and Chris Johnson gave good service and Richard Adams, in his best position at full-back, was immaculate.

Beckenham tackled hard, especially in the first half, but were only able to get near the home try line through interceptions.

It is hard to criticise the Blues after scoring so many points but their errors could have been serious – and harder encounters lie ahead.

Blues head coach Richard Isaac said: “We have plenty to work on. Some of the precision we aspire to was lacking but we are obviously pleased with the result.”

Director of rugby Paul Colley added: “I was pleased with our application to come away with a good points tally, but we know there is lots of room for improvement – we also picked up another couple of injuries giving us five to six out early in the season.

“But this is where the squad’s strength is tested. With the twos having a fantastic victory over level-seven opposition Heathfield ones, we have plenty of guys putting their hand up.”

Former Worthing player Stuart Pearham made his debut at fly-half and gave a calm performance as well as kicking the conversions, three from wide out.

After both teams had probed with high kicks between the 22s, Becks lost fly-half Leek with a pulled calf muscle and full-back Hewett took his place.

They were offside at a ruck 45 metres out and Billy Toone charged away with his tap penalty, passing neatly inside for No8 Moses Kasujja to crash over. An easy conversion made it 7-0.

In the next 25 minutes it was a story of more high kicks for territory without much gain for either side.

There were crunching tackles which stopped attacks abruptly before an interception nearly put Becks over. Another one was wasted by a knock-on and Chichester continued to rush passes when control was necessary to find the gaps.

At last a good passing move between Ben Polhill, Phil Dickin and Johnson brought a five-metre scrum and Kasujja picked up and strode across. The extras were added.

Chichester gave Becks their third interception, which this time was accepted by their left winger, who raced to the other end to score under the posts. A conversion rubbed it in.

Just before the break Chichester pressed hard and from a left corner catch and maul, Lawrence touched down under the bodies. A penalty was missed but at half-time it was 19-7.

Chichester responded to advice from coaches and attacks went in. A big push by the scrum sent Kasujja away to offload to the flying Polhill to grab the fourth try and bonus point.

Sadly Kasujja was injured and had to be helped off. Two Becks front-row men were injured at different times and uncontested scrums were required with Becks one short.

Replacements Ash Wheeler, Andy Gray and ex-Havant wing forward Niall Goldie came on. Chichester turned the screw and Becks were on the ropes, but they continued to tackle and clear their lines.

A stunning break by Barlow and pass to Jack Walker just failed because of a knock-on. But the pressure told and Lawrence bagged his second try from the reliable lineout and driving maul.

Dickin and the rampant Johnson made good ground and the ball went back to Pearham. His clever cross-kick was gathered by winger Ben Robson to touch down at the right corner. Added extras made it 36-7.

A brave Becks rally into the Chi 22 broke down and Walker, now at scrum-half, snaffled the ball. The 18-year-old Chichester High School star showed power and pace in his surge to the try line. This one was also converted.

The Funtington farmer Phil Veltom barged through desperate tackles, passing to Jon Lindsay, who offloaded to the galloping Adams to round things off, again at the corner flag.

Lindsay was helped off with a knee injury, but 50 points shone out from he electronic scoreboard as the final whistle was blown.

This week (Sat Sep 10) Chichester go to Portsmouth to try to repeat their win of last season. All support is welcome, kick-off is at 3pm at Norway Road, Hilsea.

CHICHESTER: Shopland, Lawrence, Veltom, Barlow, Lindsay, Johnson, Polhill, Kasujja, Toone, Pearham, Robson, Dickin, Fairbairn, Walker, Adams. Subs: Wheeler, Gray, Goldie.

ROGER GOULD