Blues show steel to beat Ironsides
Chichester were the better team at home to Battersea Ironsides and their forwards won a significant percentage of possession to achieve another bonus point win by 29-19.
Battersea competed hard and their backs were very dangerous, making incisive breaks.
Ben Deavall was named man of the match and 18-year-old 1st XV debutant James Smith came on at half-time and put in an accomplished performance at flanker. But this was a very good performance by the whole team,.
Despite recent rainfall the pitch was firm and the ranks of the Chichester faithful were swelled by a contingent of travelling supporters from London for the first ever match between the clubs.
Blues made seven changes to the side that comprehensively defeated London Irish the previous weekend.
The hugely experienced pair of Scott Barlow and Ben Polhill joined the pack with Alex Margarson and Rhys Thompson, taking over captaincy duties from injured Charlie Wallace, in the backs.
Niall Wright, Harry Seaman and Smith were on the bench.
Battersea kicked off up the slope towards the clubhouse and after three minutes a Battersea knock-on provided the first scrum of the afternoon.
Gareth Davies fed it in and despite Battersea’s best efforts, the scrum rolled forward 10 metres with Polhill controlling the ball at No8.
Blues had a free ball but were unable to capitalise.
A beautiful clearance kick from Rhys Thompson was fumbled into touch by Ironsides, giving Chichester a lineout 10 metres from the Battersea try line.
But having won the ball in the air the ball was knocked on at the breakdown by Blues for a scrum.
The Chichester pack drove Battersea off the ball and back over the try line with Polhill dotting down for the try, converted from wide by Tom Blewitt.
A flowing Blues move down the left was thwarted when the chip kick over the last defender was charged down. However, Blues’ domination at the scrum provided a further penalty opportunity on 19 minutes, within range of Blewitt’s left boot, 10-0.
It only took three minutes for Battersea to respond with the ball moved quickly across the field for a try in Vultures’ Corner, conversion missed, 10-5.
Chichester increased the tempo and a Blues’ attack was turned over on the 5m line.
Battersea tried to run the ball out of defence but it was recovered by Eddie Jenkinson, who ran the ball in to score, converted by Blewitt. 17-5 after 31 minutes.
A Battersea breakaway caught Blues’ defence napping for a try under the posts, converted rto make it 17-12 at the break after what was probably the most exciting 40 minutes of rugby this season, at Oaklands Park.
Blues spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped in the Battersea half but could not capitalise on possession in the red zone or dominance in the scrum.
After a final warning for penalties conceded, Battersea cleared their lines and crossed halfway.
A Chichester infringement allowed Battersea to kick for touch and Blues had to defend a lineout on their 5m line. Despite the best efforts of Zac Conley, Battersea slipped through the Chichester defence to score. Converted, 17-19.
A long kick over the top was knocked into touch by Battersea setting up a lineout on the 5m line.
Blues bought the ball down and, after initial resistance, the maul rolled forward with Josh Brown crossing to score. Another excellent conversion by Blewitt made it 24-19.
With less than 10 minutes left Blues mounted a concerted attack in the opposition red zone and were awarded a penalty ten metres out.
With the Chi faithful yelling ‘take the points’, Harry Seaman, off the bench at scrum half, looked poised to take a tap and go.
Off he went on one of his trademark sniping runs but he was brought down by the Battersea defence just short.
Blues’ forwards arrived in support and it was Joe Woods who crashed over to secure the fourth try and the bonus point.
This Saturday Blues travel to Richmond to play league leaders London Welsh at Old Deer Park (2pm).