Rugby: Chichester are made to graft at the Colf-face

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Chichester travelled to Old Colfeians and overcame a plethora of injuries and unavailability to rack up their ninth straight win and stay a point ahead of East Grinstead at the top of London one south.

With five changes in the pack and three in the backs, Chichester knew this could be tricky. The pitch was in decent knick but conditions were variable with rain, wind and sunshine.

The Blues started well with some quick ball in the first few minutes. The home side scrambled and killed the ball in the defensive zone, conceding the penalties but with no cards.

Richard Adams floated a lovely kick to Renwick but, as was to be a theme of the first 20 minutes, Chichester lacked fluency and the chance was lost.

The lineout was a lottery and despite gaining good field position the Blues could not nail any chances.

The scrum was solid with the blue front row of Woods, Gingell and Shopland getting the better of the early exchanges.

Colfs grew in confidence as the new blue combinations failed to ignite. Taylor was busy at No9 but was not given good enough possession to ignite the dangerous backs.

Ex-Premiership player Lawrence Marsh used his size and power to good effect but as the half came to a close at a rather turgid 6-3 to the Blues, the coaches and players were disappointed with the performance.

Although the Blues didn’t look in danger, this had all the hallmarks of a banana skin.

Andy Gray, now on at No8, started to lift the tempo with a series of big hits and strong carries around the fringes and Adams started to cause a few problems - but again the chances weren’t nailed and somewhat against the run of play Colfs slotted a penalty to level 6-6.

Young Henry Luxton, later named man of the match, showed some of his older colleagues the commitment needed with very solid defence and when he got the ball in hand he ran very strongly. Slowly the gaps started to appear and Adams eventually scorched over out wide for an 11-6 lead.

Chi lifted the tempo and started to put phases together with big Joe Woods carrying strongly and the backs hitting better lines and the home team scrambling in defence.

Tom Taylor sniped close to the ruck to reach over for the second try and it was 16-6.

With 15 minutes to go Marsh, now at 12, hit a good line to breach the defence and score under the posts.

The Blues were chasing the bonus-point tries but Colfs played phase after phase of keep-ball driving deep into Chi’s half. With time running out the blues defended valiantly but eventually the home side scored from a series of tight drives.

The Blues showed their heart and burst back up the pitch. Gray superbly stole the ball at the tackle on the home 22.

A red card to the Colfs lock for stamping was rather unfortunate as the game had been pretty clean, but the resulting penalty gave the Blues the final chance they needed with skipper for the day Adams arching past the defence to score the much-needed bonus try. He duly rounded of the game with the conversion.

Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “This was a tough one with injuries piling up and several key players having to work but we showed the resolve to pull through. It wasn’t a great performance but we got there in the end.”

This week Chichester have a massive challenge - they take on Wimbledon at Oaklands Park (2.30pm). One of only two clubs to give big-spending EGs any trouble this season they sit fourth in the league and the Blues will have to be on form. Big support needed.

CHICHESTER: Woods, Gingell, Shopland, Wright, Sandy, Goldie, Gillings, Marsh, Taylor, Adams, Luxton, Renwick, Jackson, Hutchinson, Golds. Reps: Gray, Nicholls, Bond.