Chichester triumph again at Portsmouth - but miss bonus point

Billy Toone gets Chichester moving at Portsmouth Picture by Mick Young
Billy Toone gets Chichester moving at Portsmouth Picture by Mick Young

Chichester’S 24-6 win at Portsmouth in London one south completed a double over a side who had lost only one match at home this season.

This was the Blues’ tenth straight win and they have had just one defeat - that a narrow one - in their last 19 matches.

But they were a bit disappointed that they missed a couple of chances to get a bonus point whereas rivals London Irish Amateur picked one up at Chobham.

Chichester had a mediocre first half when Portsmouth had the better of it, but the forwards took complete control afterwards and scored three well-worked tries, all converted.

Without the Polhill brothers, Chichester reshuffled with Phil Veltom at lock, Jon Lindsay flanker, Josh Pszczonka prop and Toby Golds at full-back.

Despite facial injuries in their last game, Moses Kasujja and Billy Toone reflected the commitment in the squad by playing.

Portsmouth started strongly and their scrum and lineout were purposeful. Chichester, on the other hand, were strangely hesitant and the cohesion was missing.

The Hampshire side kicked a penalty for offside and the Blues made mistakes which brought pressure on their 22. Indiscipline led to Veltom being sin-binned and the penalty made it 6-0.

Chichester warmed up after 20 minutes and Kasujja made a lightning break down the middle. No-one was on his shoulder and he held on after a good tackle, Portsmouth clearing with the penalty.

The backs had a run and right winger Paul Todd stabbed the ball to the try line. Golds chased to touch down but it was disallowed as he had been slightly ahead of the ball. The tight play was fairly even and Richard Adams kicked a penalty.

Chichester lost possession in their maul and a promising move failed with the ball dropped in the centre.

Another Kasujja thrust brought a penalty which looked easy but was missed.

The black and golds continued to force mistakes and Chris Johnson went off for ten minutes for handling on the ground. Veltom was back on and he gave his captain a slick pass, but a big tackle foiled Kasujja again.

Portsmouth counter-attacked splendidly with the scrum-half making a searing break and sprinting to the left corner. He passed out to the wing but Golds saved the day for Chichester with a firm tackle which sent his opponent into touch. On half-time Chichester were turned over.

A different and motivated Chichester began the second period deep in home territory and they stayed there for almost the whole time. They were secure in the tight and their very mobile forwards took command.

Three mauling phases put them five metres from the right corner. Several pick and drives went in and Portsmouth were under the cosh. They defended superbly against the odds and survived with a turnover.

A second penalty was missed but following one to the corner, Nick Blount caught and delivered. The drive was expert and Rob Lawrence broke away to score his 16th try. Adams added the extras.

The backs were given the ball but the Portsmouth centres were quickly up to tackle or intercept. So it was left to the pack to do the job.

Replacement Craig Decoteau was leading the assault. He combined with the lively Toone and fellow replacement Tom Lowe, receiving the ball back and diving over. Adams converted to make it 17-6 to Chichester.

The siege went on and Johnson was like a bull in a china shop, wrestling for the ball and linking with Lindsay as Portsmouth were pinned to the corner. Two chances to score a try were lost by kicks across the try line which went long.

Young Jack Walker relieved Toone and showed his obvious potential with his confidence and accurate pass. Pompey had a brief visit to the Chi 22 but they were tired after all their second-half defending. A Kasujja and Walker link sent the ball too hard to the wing and the pass went astray.

The next attempt was successful when Veltom knocked an opponent out of his way and offloaded to man of the match Kasujja. The powerful No8 swerved around the last defender to crash over ten metres left of the posts.

Adams converted for his 217th point of the season, believed to be a club record since the league system began.

Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “We didn’t click in the first half. The strong breeze hampered us and the game was not allowed to flow. Pompey made it difficult for us.

“We took over in the second half and perhaps should have taken a bonus point.”

This week brings another tough game at Beckenham (2.30pm).

CHICHESTER: Shopland, Lawrence, Pszczonka, Veltom, Blount, Johnson, Lindsay, Kasujja, Toone, Adams, Armah, Smallman, Fairbairn, Todd, Golds, Decoteau, Lowe, Walker.

ROGER GOULD