Blues in hurry for another bonus on road
Chichester won their fourth consecutive away game '“ they were 39-29 victors at Chobham '“ with a mixed performance to stay in third place in London one south.
They were well in control in the first half thanks to their dominant forwards and earned their regular try bonus after 32 minutes. But it was different after the interval when the hosts gained their own bonus in a commendable fightback against the odds.
The final margin was seven tries and two conversions to four tries, three conversions and a penalty.
The Blues had more driving power to get the tries when it mattered but the backs had an off day and were unable to make deep penetration. They will now be without fly-half Henry Anscombe as he jets off for a long stay in Australia and he will be much missed for the rest of the season.
Chi made six changes including a different front row of Kyran Richter, Dane Gingell and Phil Veltom. Nat Jackson returned on the right wing and young Ben Heber made his debut at full-back.
On a sunny afternoon Chi supporters were aware Chobham had lost two previous home games narrowly against leading teams. Chi were quick out of the blocks and Nick Blount was pulled down in a lineout.
Anscombe kicked the penalty to the left corner, lineout and drive allowing scrum-half Harry Seaman to press down. Chobham replied with a penalty for something at a breakdown.
Chris Johnson began his masterclass in tackle-breaking and the backs fired up but a kick to the line went dead. Blount, Veltom and Martin O’Callaghan carried strongly and punched holes. From another penalty and lineout the ball was shipped across the front of the posts and winger Cameron Hopkins touched down.
Jack Bentall and Veltom combined in a surge to within ten metres of the line but a penalty was conceded. Not for the last time Chi were caught out by a counter attack.
The penalty was tapped and a short run followed by a long kick over the top was chased hard with the Chi defence nowhere. The ball was gathered 30m out and Chobham scored despite a last-ditch Bentall tackle. The conversion made it 10-10.
Chi attacked across both sides with good hands by forwards and backs together. Chobham wilted and Johnson went over just right of the posts. Anscombe converted.
A more efficient combination sent flanker Aaron Davies across under the posts, but shockingly the conversion was missed - 22-10.
Chi scrum and lineout pressure continued but they had lost Charlie Wallace injured.
Just before the break Chi seemed to have the game sewn up when another lineout and controlled drive put hooker Gingell across. It was converted by Anscombe.
A highlight had been the form of giant lineout king Blount who consistently made ground on the hoof and also tackled hard.
The Surrey lads looked positive and if they had thrown straight should have made more of two corner lineout chances. A replacement in their front row reaped dividends and with a scrum win against the head they were warming to the task.
From a lineout on the left touch Richter broke clear inside the 22 and his inside pass put Davies over for his second try - 34-10.
Chobham signalled danger with a piercing run by the full-back but Chi turned it over. Disaster struck when Chi backs passed out to the right wing and were intercepted ten metres out. The full-back showed a clean pair of heels as he sprinted all the way to score at the far end.
Chobham were determined and pressed until, from a five-metre scrum, the ball was sent across for their third try, which was converted. - 34-22.
Johnson received a yellow card for a deliberate knock on with ten minutes left and Veltom was injured in a nasty collision but recovered.
Blues remembered their winning formula and a lineout drive saw Seaman dot down again.
The last score was by the home team thanks to a 50m sprint by their remarkably-fast left winger.
Anscombe said goodbye with a clearance to touch.
Chi are a strong attacking team but there are specific things to improve. This Saturday at Oaklands Park (2.30pm) they must be fully prepared for London Cornish. All supporters must be there.
Chichester: Richter, Gingell, Veltom, Blount, O’Callaghan, Davies, Wallace, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe, Hopkins, Bentall, Lynch, Jackson, Heber, Norton, Boulton, Hutchin.