Chichester always expect a hard and open game at Cobham and they won this one 31-15 after a rollercoaster ride.
The Surrey men took the lead briefly in the London one south clash but Chi pulled away in the last 25 minutes with three tries. The final margin was five tries and three conversions to two tries, a conversion and a penalty.
A very necessary bonus point was earned as Basingstoke collected theirs against Havant - and Chi stay in second place in the league.
It was a pitch soft but good enough for running rugby. Chi’s injury list is long and Ben Robson replaced Jack Bentall at inside centre, Tom Jackson switched from wing to full-back and Rob Lawrence continued at hooker in the long-term absence of Andy Gray.
As usual, Blues made a brisk start with Robson probing and a half-break gave Sam Renwick a canter to warm up. An attack line was changed and passes between Billy Toone, Martin O’Callaghan and Richard Adams took them inside the 22 before a knock-on.
After seven minutes, quick ball gave Adams a chance to kick over the top and follow. The bounce was unkind to the Cobham full-back and Adams collected to score the first try under the posts which he converted.
The home team stirred and, with the help of two penalties, attacked crossfield but tackled into touch. They tried twice more with good handling and looked dangerous.
Chi were caught napping when four Cobham players inter-passed up the left wing and hesitant tackles allowed burly winger Bates to dive over near the flag. Lineouts were equal with Nick Blount and Niall Goldie catching cleanly but the scrum was having problems.
More penalties conceded brought more pressure on the Chi 22. Joe Woods was sent on to bolster the front row and Chi advaced again. O’Callaghan carried strongly and Jackson’s speed and swerve beat several tackles in a long run.
The ball was moved left, Moses Kasujja and Ben Polhill punching through. A penalty was won and the lineout and drive ten metres out sent wily fox Lawrence across to touch down. A fine Adams conversion made it 14-5.
Another thrust by the back row was carried on by the centres but knocked on. Bates threatened for Cobham but a firm tackle by Jackson stopped him just in time. Fly-half Gwynne kicked a penalty when Chi held on the ground.
Adams shook his hips and made a lovely break but ten metres to go and support outside he went for the line and was put down. - meaning it was 14-8 at the interval.
Young Henry Anscombe came on at full-back with Jackson moving to the left wing. Anscombe showed his pedigree with a confident catch and kick.
The Chi pack won their first scrum against the head and Blount and his lifters began to dominate the lineout. However Cobham had a useful raid with the busy scrum-half Kennard kicking accurately to win a lineout on ten metres.
Chi cleared and Polhill gained possession in midfield. But he received an accidental boot at ground level and retired with a nasty gash over his eye needing stitches. Alex Grace replaced him.
Cobham launched a sweeping move with forwards and backs handling, beating the cover for Thomas to finish off with a try near the posts. The conversion by Gwynne meant the Blues were behind by 15-14.
Both sides were guilty of knock-ons in promising positions before Toone showed classy footwork along the touchline and then took a trademark tap penalty to launch a backs move to the right wing.
Grace and Adams handled smartly to put Renwick on a dash to the line for the third try, converted by Adams. Chi went up a gear and Kasujja hurtled forward, brushing off tackles - but his pass to a man outside was not the best.
With lineouts clockwork, Chi sought the corners. Cobham infringed to stop drives and their tight-head prop was sin-binned. Another catch and drive with Lawrence tucked in nicely put him over for the bonus-point try.
Cobham pressed for a losing bonus but the Chi defence held them on the 22 as their passing was a little flat with no central penetration.Woods was prominent at close quarter in winning possession and Chi wrapped things up when right winger Henry Luxton booted the loose ball downfield, controlled it soccer-style and then picked up to score the final try.
This week Chi have a rearranged home game against Haywards Heath (2.15pm). All support welcome: winning is now crucial to promotion play-off hopes.
CHICHESTER: Shopland, Lawrence, Corrigan, Blount, O’Callaghan, Goldie, Polhill, Kasujja, Toone, Adams, Bond, Robson ,Renwick, Luxton, Jackson, Woods, Grace, Anscombe.