CHICHESTER suffered a heavy 72-0 defeat at title-chasing Bury in National three London south east after suffering an unprecedented number of injuries and unavailable players.
Their problems were compounded by Henry Anscombe pulling his hamstring on Thursday at training.
This league has no real weak teams and most in the upper section can and will punish any frailty.
And after the trip to Suffolk, big Phil Veltom had to make a late withdrawal with a dead leg that he had hoped to shake off. He was in no state to take the field.
The Blues had to rely on stalwart Nick Shopland to don his boots while head coach Rob Lawrence had to fill the late gap.
The game started badly with Chichester failing to gather the kick-off and Bury were immediately on the attack – wave after wave with valiant blue defence eventually breached.
The title chasers looked in dominant mood and had no intention of taking their foot off the gas.
Chichester battled hard but could not get a foothold in the game, with only the lineout functioning effectively.
Living off scraps of possession, the constant pressure told with errors coming in – coughing back the ball to the now-rampant home side. Within 20 minutes Chi were two tries and a man down to the bin, and in the next ten they conceded the third and fourth tries. A battered and bruised side went into the break 24-0 down.
The Blues pulled together and although they lost another man they battled to the last – but momentum had swung completely against them.
It’s fair to say the away side gained no favours from the officials, losing out to almost every 50-50 decision, but while this added insult to injury, it did not take away from the fact that on the day they were completely outgunned by a team who look like almost inevitable league champions – though interestingly, one who had lost at Oaklands Park in December.
Bury have built a strong squad with a very strong overseas contingent. They highlighted a real New Zealand edge by being utterly ruthless in all phases of play from the first minute to the 80th.
For the Blues, Marsh and Adams opened up a few holes out wide but couldn’t capitalise and Andy Gray never stopped running and was one of the few who matched his opposite number. But across the team, genuine effort was not enough.
This league has no real weak teams and most in the upper section can and will punish any frailty. The Blues know what it takes, having been highly competitive all season – this trip highlighted the depth of squad needed.
Until now Chichester have just about had enough cover, but they fell significantly short on this occasion. The spirit remained upbeat throughout which is a huge plus, but coaches and players know this will not be enough on its own.
On Saturday week Chi play their last home game –against Westcliff – and will be going all out to put this match behind them and remind the Oaklands faithful of the quality they can deliver.
CHICHESTER: Belcher, Shopland, Dowding, Dickin, Lindsay, Grace, B Polhill, Gray, Durkin, Adams, Driscoll, T Polhill, Marsh, Harte, Golds. Reps: Shopland, Cook, Lawrence.