Thanet 8 Chichester 32
London one south
The Blues got back into league action with the long trip to face Thanet Wanderers – and came home having carved out a six-point lead at the top of London one south after a 32-8 win.
Thanet have proved difficult to beat on their own soil and Chichester knew a good performance was needed.
A late injury meant Billy Toone was unable to start, so new father Chris Wagstaff came straight in at No9.
In a strong cross-wind, the Blues chose to play up the slight incline.
They started well with excellent kicks from Pearham and Knowles giving good field position. However a few errors crept in with the lineout faltering and TWs spoiling well.
After 15 minutes of pressure a forced offload gave the blue and yellows a chance to clear and only excellent tackles out wide from Toby Golds and Jamie Knowles stopped a score against the run of play.
The Blues worked their way back upfield. Chichester’s scrum was rock-solid with Veltom and Shopland giving their opposite numbers a tough time.
Polhill, as always, was everywhere in defence and attack and from one scrum the Blues powered forward. The Blues moved the ball at pace with Deed searing outside his man and timing his pass perfectly for Knowles to ghost into the gap and outpace the cover for the first score.
Chichester were getting on top but a lack of patience saw a poor pass give TWs a counter attack. The Blues had to scramble in defence and conceded a penalty which cut the lead to 5-3.
A quick response was needed and big Fijian Manoa Satala provided it as he put in a delicate chip and followed up with in a thumping tackle spilling the ball from the defender’s grasp to pounce on the loose ball for the second score. The conversion made it 12-3.
Satala was carrying well and the backs were looking threatening, Knowles and Adams adding real pace out wide.
The forwards got into the act with a series of powerful drives and Lawrence touched down for a well-worked score.
As the Blues looked capable of putting the game out of sight, an unforced error saw the ball spilled deep in the TWs 22 several phases later. The home side dug deep to create a series of drives with their big forwards driving over to score.
Chichester worked their way back upfield with excellent carries and tactical kicks. Both forwards and backs combined to take play to ten metres from the home line.
Another tight drive took play close as Lawrence sniped round the ruck to score his second – the bonus point try. Pearham slotted the extras.
TWs were struggling to contain the blue onslaught and the home prop was given a ten-minute rest for punching as the half closed.
Chichester started the second half brilliantly, pinning TWs deep in the left hand corner. But the one-man advantage didn’t turn the pressure into points.
The Blues played some excellent rugby but occasional lapses let TWs of the hook. But the home side played most of the half in their own territory. Pearham was pulling the strings, sidestepping and varying his kicking game.
After another deft chip, the home skipper followed through with a very late hit on the Chichester No10 – giving the ref no option but a yellow.
The Blues were not finding it easy to make the final break and TWs played with real determination but eventually loose head prop Ash Wheeler drove over from close range with Pearham slotting the extras.
The last 15 minutes were all Thanet and only good defence stopped a late score with O’Callaghan taking a yellow for team infringements as the game came to a close.
Head coach Richard Isaac said: “There were some excellent aspects. We made a few errors but we would have taken the score beforehand.”
Director of rugby Paul Colley added: “This was a very solid performance and at times we played really well in tough conditions. But there were lots of areas to work on, particularly in the kill zone.”
Man of the match was Phil Veltom, ahead of Ben Pohill and Jamie Knowles.
CHICHESTER: Shopland, Lawrence, Veltom, Barlow, Blount, Goldie, Polhill, Kasujja, Wagstaff, Pearham, Golds, Satala, Deed, Adams. Reps: Wheeler, O’Callaghan, Toone.
Chichester entertain Dover this Saturday at Oaklands Park (2.15pm) – all support welcome.