IN A dramatic end to a thrilling London one south game, Chichester scored the winning try and conversion with just three minutes left to win 35-28 at Cobham.
The lead had changed hands three times and it was nail-biting for supporters with the score level at 28-28. Chi clinched five league points and moved up to second in the table.
They had to dig deep after making it hard for themselves by conceding too many penalties against well-drilled opponents.The play was end to end and Cobham might think a draw would have been a fair result but Chi’s try count was the difference. The final tally was six tries, a conversion and penalty to three tries, two conversions and three penalties.
Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “This was a fantastic game between two very good and highly-committed teams. The surface was superb and the boys produced wonderful rugby.
“It wasn’t perfect in terms of game management and we have plenty to work on but I was really pleased with the way we dug deep and pulled out a really tough and exciting win.”
The Blues welcomed back stalwarts Phil Veltom and Moses Kasujja. Both teams started brightly and a typical drive by the Blues sent hooker Tom Belcher on a run but without support.
Cobham scored after five minutes with competent movement by the backs and a kick over the top by outside centre Wehbe, who collected to go over. Fly-half Smedley added the extras.
Sam Renwick was nearly through after a break and a penalty, lineout and drive put Belcher across for touchdown.
Cobham held another drive and two penalties put them in the left corner for hooker Gibbons to return the compliment and make it 14-5 after Smedley’s conversion.
The very tall referee had a bird’s eye view of the rucks and warned Chi before giving a team yellow card to fly-half Tim Cook. Cobham went straight to Chi’s 22 to take advantage and should have scored but a big overlap was ignored and an easy chance went begging.
Chi defended their try line for two minutes then moved up a gear and after a Cobham knock-on, Billy Toone sent the ball to Veltom to carry strongly.
He passed to Belcher, whose offload found full-back Dean Morris to dive in at the left corner.
With excellent interpassing and offloads Veltom, Nick Blount and Belcher continued an attack and Morris was able to cross again at the flag. Leon Driscoll’s conversion attempt hit the upright.
Toone was having a fine game at scrum-half and his tap-and-go tactics made good ground. Chi attacked across the backs, Cobham were penalised at the breakdown and Driscoll kicked an important three points. Half-time saw Chi lead 18-17.
An exchange of high kicks and a poor one by Chi was seized by Cobham and the ball was punted long to the corner. The Chi defence was in the wrong position and left winger MacDonald accepted a gift from a kind bounce.
Head coach Rob Lawrence was on from the bench and won a scrum against the head. Tom Jackson tried to run from his 22 but was tackled and Chi penalised at the subsequent ruck. Smedley obliged and it was 25-18 with Chi looking down the barrel.
It was now or never - and they responded. The backs probed with safe hands and Cook gave big Chris Johnson a chance. The openside flanker broke two tackles to crash over. A silly infringement gave Smedley another successful penalty kick and Cobham led 28-23.
Inside-centre Jack Bentall had been a thorn in Cobham’s side and when he went to flanker, his destructive skills were decisive. He ripped the ball away and passed to Belcher who offloaded to Niall Goldie. On it went to Driscoll to squeeze in for the fifth try.
Cook was tackled five metres out with an overlap outside him and the Cobham’s hooker made a timely intercept to set his own backs on the attack. Their passing was smooth but predictable and Chi’s drift defence coped.
The final act was sensational. Man of the match Bentall stole the ball and fed Jackson. He ran forward out of his 22 and kicked sraight down the touchline. He collected the ball, outpaced the desperate cover and finished clinically. Driscoll converted.
This was a great advert for amateur rugby and played very sportingly.
The blues have no game this weekend but face Haywards Heath on October 26 (3pm). Come and support your team.
CHICHESTER: Turner, Belcher, Veltom, Lindsay, Blount, Goldie, Johnson, Kasujja, Toone, Cook, Driscoll, Bentall, Renwick, Jackson, Morris. Reps: Lawrence, Grace, Grimwood.