Chichester made their third visit to Kent in four weeks to play Sevenoaks in the final London one south game – but could not end the campaign on a high as they went down 44-26.
Chichester scored four tries and three conversions to Sevenoaks’ five converted tries and three penalties and left Kent with a bonus point.
Chi made five changes to the squad that beat Old Colfeians with Sam Drayson and Will Maxfield in the pack, Toby Golds at full-back and Ollie Charlish and Ed Hounsell on the bench. The weather was excellent and a large crowd watched.
A good contingent of Blues’ supporters had travelled up from the south coast.
Chichester found themselves under pressure from kick-off with Sevenoaks securing the ball. Slick passing opened up the Chichester defence and Sevenoaks scored a simple try under the posts. It was converted.
It took Chichester only another four minutes to reply. Ben Robson received the ball and used his strength and speed to outmuscle and outpace the Sevenoaks defence and cross the whitewash. The conversion made it 7-7.
From the restart Chichester recycled the ball and slick handling across the backs saw Jack Hamilton-Fox on his way to round the Sevenoaks defence and dot down.
For the next 20 minutes both teams played entertaining rugby but a combination of great defence and handling errors prevented either from adding to the score.
Ben Heber took on two Sevenoaks’ defenders down the touchline to score in the corner, only for the referee to rule harshly a foot was in touch.
After 30 minutes a well-executed move created a gap in the Blues’ defence and Sevenoaks scored their second try and it was 14-14.
With a couple of minutes left of the first half a Chichester infringement at the breakdown provided Sevenoaks with a penalty which was kicked.
After only two minutes of the second half the referee produced a yellow card and Chichester found themselves playing with 14 men.
Sevenoaks elected to kick the penalty – 20-14.
Chichester defended resolutely but conceded another penalty before returning to a full complement.
The advantage swung towards Blues and after ten minutes of sustained pressure Hamilton-Fox outpaced the opposition for his second try. Then... disaster!
The referee produced his yellow card and Chichester were down to 14 men again. It took Sevenoaks only three minutes to work an opening in the Chichester defence to score their third try which meant they led 30-21.
Sevenoaks applied further pressure and were rewarded with their bonus-point try. Just before Chichester returned to their full complement the referee produced his yellow card again and Sevenoaks found themselves playing out the match with 14 men.
As the clock ran down Heber scored Chichester’s bonus-point try. The conversion was missed.
The Sevenoaks pack drove Chichester back to score again.
Full-time marked the end of a season that saw Chichester use 59 players.
It looks as though it is farewell to Jack Arden-Brown and Jack Bentall, but several exciting young players made first XV debuts.
Chi also say goodbye to Gravesend, Old Colfeians and Maidstone, who drop out of London one south, and CS Rugby, who return to level five after a three-year absence.
Next season will see at least four trips to Kent with Westcombe Park and Dartfordians joining Chichester’s division
Chichester: Drayson, Arden-Brown, Maxfield, O’Callaghan, Blount, Grinsted, Wallace, Johnson C, Seaman, Heber, Hutchin, Robson, Renwick, Hamilton-Fox, Golds, Woods, Charlish, Hounsell.