Chichester had wanted to bounce back after a disappointing result against Brighton a week earlier and, despite another defeat in Essex, there were encouraging signs in the 32-31 defeat at Thurrock that Chi are not far away from putting in the type of performance needed.
Sam Drayson and Dane Gingell returned to the front row and Martin O`Callaghan and Jon Lindsay to the second row giving the front five a much more solid look.
The game kicked off in dry but windy conditions and the Blues were immediately on the front foot with the forwards carrying hard. Chris Johnson made one of his wrecking-ball runs and quick ball sent the backs away.
The scrum was starting get on top of the home pack but attacking deep in the black and white half a slap down from the Thurrock centre bouncing of the arm of a Chi player was not spotted by the ref and the subsequent interception sent Thurrock away.
With the Blues out of position the speedy home winger gassed away to score out wide.
Slowly Chi got back into the game – Golds took the game by the scruff of the neck with a great break down the left wing and was stopped by a high tackle. From the resultant penalty Harry Seaman surged over.
Davies kicked deep into home territory and good pressure from McLagan forced a Chi lineout close to the black and white line. A series of drives were close and Johnson smashed over for the Blues’ second score. Norton just missed the extras but it was 12-5.
The game was disrupted by several fracas with the home side looking to disrupt and the Blues trying to attack.
The game became niggly but the Blues were focused and playing some good stuff. Probably the try of the game came as Sam Renwick hit a gorgeous line off Thompson to see the outside centre slice through under the posts.
The Blues knew the second half would need a big effort into a very strong wind but they started superbly. Johnson shrugged off two defenders and used his power to gain the try bonus point as he surged over to send the Blues into a 26-5 lead.
Concentration levels dropped as Thurrock moved the ball well – several missed tackles led to a quick try - 26-10.
The Blues were not helped by several injuries – skipper Charlie Wallace and hooker Dane Gingell both had to leave the field as Thurrock sensed their chance with another try nicely converted from wide out.
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Some tricky decisions hampered Chi – having won a lineout against the throw they were strangely penalised for crossing as they kicked clear.
Thurrock pounced and got on the outside of a tiring defence to close the score to 26-24. They forced a penalty and a yellow card for holding on with 20 to go 27-26.
A man down and hampered by changes, the Blues had to dig deep but could not stop another home-side try – 32-26.
The Blues showed excellent resilience and pulled together for a last push. Drayson rounded off a strong day as he hammered over – the conversion missed by inches to leave the score 32-31.
In the last couple of minutes theBblues fashioned two chances: the first saw the Thurrock hooker completely take out Tyrese Makasi off the ball to stop him running through in the clear –but this was not seen, rounding off a deeply frustrating day.
Paul Colley, director of rugby, said: “Thurrock look a decent side and knew how to play these conditions and the circumstances well.
“We are disappointed and I think we did deserve to nick it – but you have to concentrate throughout. However this performance was a step forward and everyone at Chi knows that a really good performance is close.”
Chichester host London Cornish this Saturday - all support welcome.