Stand-ins step up as Chichester’s blistering start continues

Aaron Lowe has been one of the stars of Chichester's early-season form   Picture by Louise Adams
Aaron Lowe has been one of the stars of Chichester's early-season form Picture by Louise Adams

Chichester followed up their good home start with a powerful 43-18 win on their first National League London three south east away trip.

The Blues were without captain Ben Polhill and fly-half Danny Gray. Jack Bentall, the ex-Bath player, took over the No7 jersey and full-back Rich Adams was at No10.

Worries that losing such influential players could be a major problem proved unfounded with their stand-ins having tremendous games.

Henry Anscombe came in at No9 and Tom Jackson came in on the left wing.

Chichester were in blue and red hoops and CS 1863 forced an early penalty which drifted wide. The blue and reds responded with big lock Aaron Davies carrying hard and quick movement of the ball forcing an offside at the ruck. Henry Anscombe calmly slotted the three points.

Chichester piled on more pressure with Tom Belcher, the powerful prop, sending Jackson away on a surging run. The scrambling defence conceded another penalty which Anscombe knocked over 6-0.

The visitors were looking dangerous with Bentall causing havoc at ruck time, constantly harrying and turning over home ball. He was carrying to good effect getting Chi over the gain line.

On one such surge, the big flanker linked with flyer Tanner to launch a lightning attack with quick ball. Captain Rich Adams put on the afterburners to ghost away from the home defence and score between the sticks.

With Chi putting huge pressure on the CS scrum, Bentall looked to have intercepted a home pass but the ref thought he had broken early – and

from the resulting penalty CS made quick passes and the dangerous home No9 broke. The final pass was perfect and the try was scored, and converted by Hadden.

Bentall got the away side going forward and the Chi pack started to get on top. The front row of Belcher, Shopland and Woods were

giving their opposite numbers a tough afternoon.

They forced a kickable penalty which drifted wide but soon forced another. This time the kick to touch saw Blount soar in the lineout and CS were shunted 20 metres over the line.

Powerhouse Chris Johnson emerged over the line with the ball. Anscombe struck another nice conversion for a 20-7 lead.

The CS scrum-half forced the red and blues to concede a five-metre penalty. The away pack produced a power scrum with young hooker Shopland striking against the head. From the relieving kick and CS visibly smarting, things boiled over and flanker Rhys Gillings could count himself unlucky to receive a yellow card. CS also lost a man to the bin.

A penalty each way meant it was 23-10, then against the run of play the red and blues conceded a penalty deep in their own half for holding on and an immediate yellow followed – 23-13.

Chi were still forcing the pace and Anscombe struck another penalty before the break.

The second half started with Bowden using his extra pace in the back row to good effect.

An excellent clearance kick from Tom Jackson stopped another potential CS score. Blount poached the CS throw and quick hands from Renwick to Driscoll unleashed the flying Tanner, who sped away for an excellent score – the wide conversion bounced back off the uprights. . Woods was anchoring the solid scrum, Johnson launched forward and quick ball allowed new boy Aaron Lowe to carve a beautiful line and put away Leon Driscoll, who showed excellent speed to scorch over wide left. Anscombe struck the conversion well for a 38-13 lead.

Driscoll rounded off an excellent day as he once again got on the outside of CS to cruise over for his second try.

The home side’s No13 drove over for a late consolation score.

Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “With CS taking East Grinstead pretty close last week, we knew they would represent a tough challenge and we are very pleased with both the result and the performance.

“The pack were excellent and the backs used great ball very well. However feet are firmly on the ground as we know there are some very good sides in this league and the challenges will come thick and fast.”

This week Guernsey, a very powerful outfit, come to Oaklands Park - all support welcome for a 2.30pm start.

CHICHESTER: Belcher, Shopland, Woods, Davies, Blount, Gillings, Bentall, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Jackson, Renwick, Lowe, Tanner, Driscoll. Reps: Gingell, Bowden, Kirkpatrick.