Chichester serve up a rugby Christmas cracker

Another great home performance gave Chichester’s fans the perfect Christmas present as they defeated fierce rivals 14-13.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 2:00 pm
Harry Seaman dives over for the first Chi try / Picture by Alison Tanner

The forwards won the battle against Havant’s ball carriers and with good phased play, the team dominated the first half to lead 14-0 at the interval.

Havant came back and it was a tense last 15 minutes but Chi picked up again and with strong ball retention ran the clock down to another famous derby victory.

The large crowd saluted the Blues with a tremendous roar.

Rhys Thompson ready to pounce for Chichester v Havant / Picture by Michael Clayden

Chi have won eight of their past ten matches against their friends from Hooks Lane.

The rain persisted in the run-up to the game and after two inspections and last minute work, the pitch was deemed fit.

Joe Woods and Zac Conoly returned in the pack, with Eddie Jenkinson and Tom Blewitt in the backs and brothers Will Norton and Charlie Norton joining John Lindsay on the bench.

The balcony and touchlines were packed as Chichester started down the slope and into a gusting wind. Straight away Havant were under the cosh with Chi’s Blue wall shutting down any attempt to run the ball out of defence.

Chichester on the attack / Picture by Michael Clayden

Chichester’s pack had the edge in the scrum and were pushing the opposition backwards. It took Havant 20 minutes to cross the halfway line but even that didn’t last.

An infringement provided Blues with a kick to touch and from the lineout their driving maul headed for the line, with Harry Seaman dotting down. The referee was on the spot to see that it had been held up.

From the five-metre scrum Havant stopped the driving maul illegally and the referee produced a yellow card. It wasn’t long before Chichester were on the line trying to find a gap. The Havant defence was superb but after several pick and goes Harry Seaman burst through to score a trademark try next to the post. Converted by Tom Blewitt, 7-0.

Shaun Baker’s long pass started a running move involving Rhys Thompson, Chris Johnson, Matt McLagan and Blewitt that looked to outflank the Havant defence.

The ball was driven over the line and Blewitt touched down for the second try out wide. He used the wind to move the ball in flight and secure the extra points – 14-0 at half-time. The Chi faithful couldn’t quite believe it.

Havant started the second half a different team and it was Chi’s turn to defend. An infringement provided Joel Knight with the opportunity to get Havant on the scoreboard with his trusty boot, 14-3.

This was repeated nine minutes later and at 14-6 Havant looked dangerous. However, Blues dug deep and were impressive in defence, soaking up pressure.

With nine minutes left a well-worked lineout move allowed Sean Shepherd to cross for a simple Havant try, converted by Knight – 14-13.

The last nine minutes were played in the Havant half and will be talked about for a long, long time. Chichester gained possession and the noise from both sets of supporters was deafening. Blues’ game management was superb as they retained the ball through 16 phases before Seaman kicked it out to end the game.

Director of rugby Paul Colley said: “This was a fantastic Chichester team performance, from one through to 18... a great advert for level six rugby.”

Chichester: Deavall, Makasi, Woods, Conoly, O’Callaghan, Polhill, Wallace (Capt.), Johnson, Seaman, Baker, McLagan, Thompson, Jenkinson, Golds, Blewitt, Lindsay, W Norton, C Norton.

* Chichester go to KCS Old Boys on Saturday, January 4.