Double dose of rugby success: Chichester are happy at Havant
Jubilant Chichester recorded their first league double of the season - and it was over their fierce rivals Havant.
They followed up September's home victory over the men from Hooks Lane with a 28-19 success on their hosts' new artificial pitch. The victory came thanks to a fine performance featuring determination and skill.
Both wins over Havant have brought bonus points and Chichester have moved well away from the bottom two in London one south.
Chichester made changes to the side that lost to Camberley. Ed Bowden and Ben Polhill (celebrating a significant birthday) came into the pack, with Eddie Jenkinson and Tom Blewitt in the backs and Dane Gingell on the bench.
The Chichester team had made the short journey down the A27 on Tuesday night to practice on the pitch. A large crowd filled the stand and spilled round both sides of the pitch. In fairly gloomy conditions, with constant drizzle, the game was played under the floodlights.
Chichester kicked off deep into the opposition half and immediately had Havant under pressure. The clearance kick to touch was skilfully kept in play by Harry Seaman and worked towards the centre of the pitch by the forwards for Henry Anscombe to kick a drop goal.
Runs from Ryan Boulton, Chris Johnson and Sam Drayson moved the ball back to halfway providing Anscombe the opportunity to put a chip into the Havant red zone for Matt McLagan to chase. Havant cleared into touch and from the lineout strong runs from Joe Woods and Drayson moved the ball to the 22m line for Seaman to pass to Anscombe to kick his second drop goal - 6-0 after just four minutes.
Seaman's long clearance kick forced Havant to pass across their 22m line. An attempted chip was gathered by McLagan and recycled to Anscombe whose dummy created space for a long pass to Sam Renwick. The outside centre put on the afterburners and sped for the line before being tackled just short. Two pick and goes later and Toby Golds dotted down for a try.
Havant gathered but strong tackling from Chichester allowed Ed Bowden to strip the ball and gain valuable yards. At a ruck Blues were penalised for an infringement and Havant kicked for goal 11-3. A further penalty was conceded shortly after that for offside.
Relentless tackling from Chichester minimised progress until Richard Ives turned over the ball. Drayson fed McLagan whose long pass found Renwick on a run that cut through the Havant defence for what seemed a certain try. He was stopped just short but the ball was recycled to Anscombe, who dived between two defenders to dot down next to the posts. The conversion made it 18-6.
The next ten minutes was played in Chichester’s half with Blues’ defence stopping attack after attack, but finally Havant touched down in the corner.
The second half began as the first ended with Chichester on the ropes conceding penalties. It only took four minutes until one was in kicking range and now it was 18-14.
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Disaster struck when the referee produced a yellow card and Chichester were reduced to 14 men. However, Havant were unable to take advantage.
Finally, some respite. A Havant clearance was returned long by Anscombe, going into touch on the opposition 22m line. An infringement provided Blues with a lineout on the 5m line and series of pick and goes by the forward, ended with Woods crashing over to score.
Chichester, back to 15 men, upped the tempo and contained Havant. Runs from Eddie Jenkinson and Renwick made ground but were stopped short.
Chi supporters, aware Havant were capable of closing the nine-point gap, urged their team on. Chichester's pack advanced the ball to the 5m line but Havant’s defence remained solid. After seven phases Seaman recycled to Anscombe whose long pass found Tom Blewitt wide. A sidestep wrongfooted the defender and he crossed the line to score Chichester’s fourth try and secure a bonus point.
With time running out Blues conceded a penalty on the Havant 22m line. Havant worked the ball up the pitch and from a ruck on the Blues’ 22m line the scrum-half darted through the Chi defence to score. The conversion hit the post and bounced wide, denying Havant a losing bonus point, as the referee blew for full time.
The five points ensured the Blues don’t lose ground on those around them in the table. The whole team can be proud of their efforts.
Chichester: Drayson, Ives, Woods, Boulton, Bowden, Polhill, Wallace (Capt.), Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe, McLagan, Jenkinson, Renwick, Golds, Blewitt, Gingell, O’Callaghan. Davies.
* On Saturday (Jan 26) Chichester travel to play Dartfordians (2pm).