CHICHESTER seconds overcame a much bigger pack at East Grinstead to win 21-20 and secure a place in the Sussex Bowl final, which they won last year.
The twos paraded a young, dynamic team with only a smattering of older players.
They demonstrated great fortitude under pressure, grit and bravery in the tackle and breakdown areas to gain victory, having been a man down for the last 25 minutes.
EG loaded their front five with size and experience.
The Chi twos gave no ground and Alex Grace put in a number of massive hits on the gain line to knock back the hosts.
Courage and technique at the breakdown came from captain Martin O’Callaghan, No8 Liam O’Hagan and out-half Jimmy Taylor.
Quick ball was recycled to Harry Shonk, who drove a wedge through the defence that Taylor exploited to feed Toby Golds, who beat three defenders to score. Full-back Dean Morris converted and Chi took a 7-0 lead.
Having imposed themselves, Chi’s sloppy defence let EG take advantage of an overlap to score in the corner.
Scrum half Nathan Tucker maintained front foot momentum with a quick tap after Chi were awarded a rare penalty. Tucker offloaded to Shonk, who linked with open side flanker Jack Lumbard.
Prop Dane Gingell took the ball, drew a defender, passed back to Lumbard, who fed the rampaging Gingell – who dashed over the line. This and another conversion took Chi into a 14-5 lead, reduced to 14-10 just before half-time.
The home side took the lead for the first time with a try just after the break.
Frustration at not getting any 50/50 decisions boiled over and Nick Shopland was red-carded. His antagonistic opponent was yellow-carded.
A penalty gave EG a 20-14 lead and they had a one-man advantage.
Club head coach Rob Lawrence and Mallmbo Tinashe brought stability and pace. Taylor whipped a long ball out to Golds to score his second well-taken try in the corner.
Morris just missed the conversion and with five to go, Chi were a point down.
The only penalty awarded against East Grinstead in the second half saw Morris slot the ensuing kick.
Chichester will play as-yet-unknown opposition in the Sussex Bowl at Bognor on April 27.
CHI: Gingell, Shonk, Shopland, Stride, O’Callaghan, Grace, Lumbard, O’Hagan, Tucker, Taylor, Golds, Robson, Reid, Jackson, Morris, Tinashe, Lawrence.
n Chichester’s first XV resume their London one south promotion bid at Staines this Saturday.