IN STARK contrast to the game against East Grinstead, a much-changed Chichester RFC gave their worst performance this season and – with the exception of their scrum – they were outplayed in all areas by strongly-motivated Tring, who won 29-10.
On a very muddy pitch with patches of snow and ice melting on top, the relegation-threatened hosts were pumped up from the start and with vocal support and sheer determination they won by three tries, a conversion and four penalties to a converted try and penalty.
It was a bad day for Chi, who had five players missing through injury or unavailability for the National three London south east.
Joe Woods was at loose- head, Jon Lindsay at lock,Phil Dickin moved to flanker, Henry Anscombe scrum-half, Tom Polhill inside centre and Toby Golds full-back. Peter Meachin made his debut in the pack from the bench.
One player was ill in the warm-up and had to receive medication.
Chi started promisingly but were held up by good defence. They earned two penalties and opted for the posts with the second, fly-half Alex Marsh slotting the points.
Tring replied with a huge kick to the left corner, a steal at the lineout, two quick passes and Mowbray went over. Newton converted from wide.
Tring disrupted another lineout and from the scrum, a high kick was accurately placed for young right winger Jarvis to catch, evade a tackler and offload to supporting full-back Browne for their second try, making it 12-3 after just 15 minutes.
Chi attacked with more drive mauls but Tring contained them. The referee saw an entry fom the side and a penalty to the corner gave another chance five metres out, but Tring cleared with a hack downfield.
Woods had to leave the field with a back spasm and was replaced by Tom Belcher. Chi conceded penalties at the breakdown and Newton punished them with two more kicks for an 18-3 lead.
Anscombe and Chris Johnson were doing their best to win ground and set up positions but Tring were gaining control.
Just before the break Marsh made a good break but was high tackled close to the right touchline.
The referee blew for a penalty to Chi but Marsh had his face scratched as he tried to get up and a mass fight erupted. It went on too long and the referee gave yellow cards to Marsh for retaliation and to the Tring assailant, but he may have selected their wrong man. He reversed the penalty after back-chat by Chi.
The whistle was blown for half-time and it emerged winger Rory Tanner had been concussed in a clash of heads with Tom Polhill when trying to prevent Tring’s first try.
Tring were soon back in the driving seat and added another penalty for a ruck offence. Chi went to the other end and Anscombe put them to the left corner. Pick and go failed, then Lindsay and Golds were both put down as they attempted some running.
Tring surged forward and from the front of their lineout, a forward caught the ball with no marker and galloped towards the line, a tackle thwarting him at the death.
At a subsequent breakdown the referee felt obliged to sin-bin Phil Veltom for not rolling away immediately. This highlighted a ridiculous rugby law that takes no heed of circumstances such as the largest man on the pitch being pinned down in thick mud. The penalty made it 24-3.
Down to 14 again and with Ben Polhill off with a leg injury, Meachin came on for Chi to make a useful contribution and Leon Driscoll had replaced the unlucky Tanner.
Tring pressed hard in the 22 and quick ball sent the overlapping Jarvis soaring over. The conversion was missed.
Chi had Veltom and Polhill back and pressed hard for the last ten minutes with Johnson powering everywhere and a Tring man sin-binned – but Golds still had to make a big tackle to stop a fast counter-attack.
Phil Dickin found a hole on the blindside and scored at the left corner. Anscombe landed a superb muddy touchline conversion.
Tring wanted a bonus point and had a last attack which Chi held and Marsh came away with a swerve and sidestep which could have been more rewarding in attack.
After a rest this weekend, the Blues go to third-placed Barnes on Saturday week. All support welcome – kick-off 2.30pm.
CHICHESTER: Woods, Shopland, Veltom, Neil, Lindsay, B Polhill, Dickin, Johnson, Anscombe, Marsh, Jackson, T Polhill, Lowe, Tanner, Golds, Belcher, Meachin, Driscoll.