If you fancy close encounters of the rugby kind, become a supporter of Chichester.
Their 15-13 win over Sutton and Epsom in National three London south east was their fourth game in which the final margin has been five points or less, involving two wins and two losses.
They deserved the points on this occasion, scoring two tries, a conversion and a penalty to a converted try and two penalties.
The Chi scrum was stronger and the backs took their tries well in the first half. Sutton had a lot of possession in the second half but were unable to penetrate against an organised defence.
The visitors were unlucky to lose their scrum half with a bad arm injury and a good recovery is hoped for.
Chi welcomed back Phil Dickin and made several important positional changes, with Don Farmer coming in at inside centre. After heavy rain in the morning, the sun came out and the pitch was in fine condition.
In a repeat of last week, Chi took the lead after just three minutes. The Sutton outside centre ran into a big hit, Henry Anscombe’s kick forward was returned hastily and fell to scrum-half Jak Evans. He was joined by the pack and they mauled to 15m from the right corner before sending the ball out to Thompson at outside centre.
The evasive runner broke through for a very good try, converted by full-back Taff Davies. Soon after a Chi player went off his feet at a ruck and Hurley kicked the penalty for S&E from 25m to make it 7-3.
S&E were looking dangerous and their back row had to be contained between the 22 lines. Chi made mistakes, including a bad lineout, a knock-on and an early push by the scrum.
An S&E lineout was penalised, Chi lost the scrum but regained the ball and drove into Vulture’s Corner. Held up initially, they whipped the ball to the powerful Farmer who crashed across for the second try. The conversion was missed so it was 12-3.
Sutton advanced in determined mood and there was a scramble for a loose ball on the right wing. They recovered it and the ball was shipped quickly left, pulling in the cover and offloading for winger Faaatuatu to touch down at the left corner flag. There was a lovely conversion by Hurley from out wide.
Anscombe was troubling the visitors with huge kicks and Ken Dowding and Jack Bentall made good ground. Chi were penalised at a ruck and Hurley stroked a smooth penalty so Chi trailed 13-12.
Taff Davies’ kick started a Chi attack with secure handling. A penalty was just missed by Chi before S&E pressed with good passing but no breaks.
Nick Blount climbed high in the lineout and fed Evans for a mazy run but the ball was knocked on from the tackle.
Martin O’Callaghan put in another hard shift at lock and Aaron Davies was probing at No8. S&E went on the attack but and a relatively-easy penalty was missed.
Just before the break Aaron Davies took a pass from Robin Guest to dive over but Guest had put his foot out of touch.
Sean Shepherd came on as replacement hooker. He was in action as Chi attacked but Thompson was held in the tackle.
S&E stepped up with their captain Caddy urging them on. Bentall tackled in good time as they pressed.
Their scrum-half left the pitch and Ed Bowden came on for Chi in the back row. They won a scrum against the head, Anscombe made one of his great kicks to the right corner and pressure brought them the crucial penalty which was to win the game.
Against the wind and out wide, Taff Davies sent the ball sailing through the uprights. He followed this with a crunching tackle on the SE winger.
Jack Maslen streaked up his wing and beat two men before he was stopped. S&E countered and their fly-half showed his footwork.
Chi had to make every tackle count, which they did with Maslen setting the example, followed by Farmer and Taff Davies. Harry Seaman replaced Evans and Anscombe was a thorn in the flesh of S&E with his kicking.
Blues went for one more score for safety with Seaman and Bentall linking to put Sutton under the cosh in added time. The forwards completed their final task retaining the ball ten metres out and running down the watch.
This week Chi travel to Hertford to challenge the strong league leaders. There’s room on the coach for supporters.
Chichester: Deavall, Arden-Brown, Dowding, O’Callaghan, Blount, Dickin, Bentall, A Davies, Evans, Anscombe, Maslen, Farmer, Thompson, Guest, T Davies, Shepherd, Bowden, Seaman.
* Chichester’s second XV beat the S&E seconds 20-10 on an adjacent pitch to complete a pleasing afternoon for the Blues.
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