Revenge so sweet as Chichester take the honours against Haywards Heath

Jon Lindsey soars to claim the ball for Chichester against Haywards Heath
Jon Lindsey soars to claim the ball for Chichester against Haywards Heath

Chichester took full and exciting revenge for their narrow defeat in the corresponding away fixture when they defeated Haywards Heath 18-8 at Oaklands Park.

They played excellent team rugby in the first half and deserved more than a 15-point lead at the break.

Their support play and inter-passing was breathtaking at times and produced two outstanding tries by the backs.

Heath got going in the last 20 minutes and their pressure brought a try, but it was too late and they missed a losing bonus point.

The Blues have leapfrogged into third place in the league and their determination and team spirit has given them due reward.

An all-Sussex contest was sure to be robust and early exchanges produced hard tackling as both teams probed.

Chichester’s forwards drove and scrum-half Steve McCluskey was foiled at the right corner. Heath gave a clear message they would try to use giant lock Parker as a battering ram outside the scrum.

Moses Kasujja was crash-tackled as he attempted a break and Jon Lindsay, Billy Toone and Eddie Armah combined before being forced into touch.

Hooker Rob Lawrence received lengthy treatment for a facial injury suffered in an off-the-ball incident.

After 20 minutes, Chichester backs swept to the right and Kasujja’s offload gave Richard Adams some space. He dummied and shimmied from the 22 line before cantering across to touch down - and made it look easy. He added an impressive touchline conversion. However, he missed a penalty when Heath were turned over and didn’t release.

Heath advanced for the first time and outside centre Warnes made a fast outside break. But they messed up a penalty kick to the corner.

The Blues began a series of hot attacks with smooth handling and offloads, winger Tom Jackson catching the eye. An accelerating Toby Golds was held just short.

Nick Shopland and Phil Veltom were aggressive at the coal face, Ben Polhill and Chris Johnson were winning possession and Jon Lindsay was back to his best as a ball carrier.

The Blues scrum was on top and in the lineouts, Nick Blount was having a splendid duel with Parker. Chichester pressure told and the Heath scrum collapsed, Adams kicking the penalty to make it 10-0.

Both teams received yellow cards at different times and Lawrence had to leave the field for attention to a cut.

On came Josh Pszczonka and he soon nailed a defender and won a scrum. The ball went at full speed from right to left through safe hands, and well-timed final delivery left Armah to gas 20 metres and open his account for the season at the corner flag. It was 15-0 and the Blues were firmly in charge.

They continued to dominate with Polhill leading and it needed a long clearance by Philip to rescue Heath.

McCluskey tried again from the back of a ruck and a penalty was awarded, Adams adding three more points with a confident kick.

At the other end, Chichester went offside and Philip kicked Heath’s first points. Kasujja broke through and offloaded to Golds but he was upended by an unfriendly defender.

In the last quarter, Heath upped their game and play was mainly on the home 22. Warnes threatened with pace and a kick ahead but Adams ran the ball into touch.

Heath made several attempts to breach but were twice turned over and Chi refused to concede.

However, they gave away penalties for infringements and eventually Davies broke off the back of a five-metre scrum and plunged over. The easy conversion was missed so it was 18-8. A penalty right at the end also went wide.

Chichester were delighted after the final whistle having worked so hard for the win.

The teams will meet again in the Sussex Trophy final next spring if they win their semi-finals.

It was a very important win and the only problem was discipline in the second half, when too many penalties were given away for technical offences.

Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “It was tough and highly charged but we played well and deserved the points. The front five had a definite edge and the back row gave the backs full support in attack.”

This week (Dec 18) it’s the derby at Portsmouth. All support welcome at Norway Road (2.15pm).

CHICHESTER: Shopland, Lawrence, Veltom, Barlow, Blount, Johnson, Polhill, Lindsay, McCluskey, Adams, Armah, Kasujja, Toone, Jackson, Golds, Pszczonka, Gray, Robson.