Blues sparkle as Thurrock are thumped

Cameron Hopkins touches down / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Cameron Hopkins touches down / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Chichester made it six wins from seven with a sparkling first-half display at home to Thurrock when they earned a bonus point in just 24 minutes.

It was 38-5 at half-time and game over, but Thurrock fought back and points were shared the rest of the game. The London one south clash ended 50-17.

The final margin was eight tries and five conversions to three tries and a conversion.

Young winger Cameron Hopkins scored a hat-trick on his debut and fly-half Henry Anscombe was outstanding at fly-half with his vision and all-round skills.

Both teams faced a blustery wind at times. Blues were still missing players but young replacements Sam Drayson and Ollie Charlis in the front row and Tom Hutchin at full-back had already filled gaps.

Josh Goodwin came on to the bench from the colts to make his debut towards the end.

It was breathless entertainment for Blues supporters.

Thurrock kicked off and Chi received competently to launch immediate attacks. The visitors lost a player soon when under pressure and after eight minutes Chi were on the scoreboard.

Strong carries by forwards, a clever Anscombe kick and two lineouts led to a drive to Vulture’s Corner and a crunch down over the try line by scrum-half Harry Seaman.

Anscombe kicked accurately to the left again, Hopkins was up very fast and sprinted to the corner for a 10-0 lead.

Thurrock got across halfway but met first-up tackles, especially by Chris Johnson.

Chi moved to the right for a change, Nick Blount delivered quickly from the lineout and Anscombe made a half break. His slick inside pass was taken by Ben Robson coming off the right wing and he charged across for the third try.

Anscombe adjusted for the wind to kick a lovely conversion. Chi showed how deadly they can be with a brilliant fourth try and bonus.

Anscombe broke again and inside passes and a reverse offload featured as Robson, Jack Bentall and Adrian Lynch whizzed the ball to Hopkins to finish off clinically. An excellent conversion from wide out made it 24-0.

Another attack with combined forwards and backs brought a penalty and lineout drive for flanker Charlie Wallace to score – it was also converted. It was breathless entertainment for Blues supporters.

Next came more good combination for position, backs thrusting and a Robson pass for the supporting Wallace to pounce and score his second to make it 38-0.

Thurrock showed good hands and pressed in phases. Attempted tackles by Chi failed and Farrell scored at the left corner and it was 38-5 at the break.

Martin O’Callaghan and Kyran Richter came off the bench into the scrum. Aaron Davies, Blount and Wallace caught at three successive lineouts and the backs ran the ball before turning it back to the pack.

Johnson took over and crashed over at full length. The conversion made it 45-5.

For the rest of the half the Essex team confirmed their reputation for fitness and second-half danger. Chi defended on their 22 but Thurrock seized on a mistake and a good kick into space on the left brought a try for Nunn.

They received a yellow card to go down to 14 men. However, they were restored to full complement when they breached the Chi defence for No8 Retigan to go over near the posts. It was 45-17 after a conversion.

Chi put their foot back on the pedal and the forwards drove for the ball to reach Hopkins to celebrate his special success with his third.

Blues had played very well and their discipline was good. They have scored a lot of tries but have conceded too many.

This week they are at Chobham (3pm).

Chichester: Drayson, Charlish, Woods, Blount, Boulton, Davies, Wallace, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe, Robson, Bentall, Lynch, Hopkins, Hutchin, Richter, O’Callaghan, Goodwin.

ROGER GOULD