Gravesend is no graveyard for powerful Chichester
Chichester followed their poor performance against Cobham with a positive response at Gravesend and a 40-21 London one south win that kept pressure on the sides at the top.
The Blues made several changes with a couple more injuries picked up against Cobham and skipper Jack Bentall and fly-half Richard Adams unavailable.
Theywere delighted to see the return of Nick Blount and Ryan Boulton in the row and Aaron Davies at No6. Jack Hamilton-Fox made his first start on the wing and Toby Golds stepped up on to the bench. Eleven of the 18 had been in the seconds only four weeks ago.
The pitch was in excellent condition and the Blues started brightly. Davies hit a great line off Henry Anscombe to breach the Gs defence, tearing away to score under the posts. Anscombe slotted the extras.
Anscombe used the wind excellently to punch play deep into the black and white territory and good tackling forced the knock-on and an attacking scrum. Chris Johnson, who has been a powerhouse all season, smashed the opposition back row aside to score and it was 14-0.
Gravesend started to dig in with their 12 and left-winger Okenla looking dangerous. The Blues stepped off somewhat and the home side muscled their way over, adding an excellent conversion from out wide.
The next 20 minutes saw the Blues clicking into gear with a mixture of forward power and strong carrying alongside some nice lines from Sam Robson and Adrian Lynch in the centre, aided by delightful kicking from Anscombe.
Chichester scored three excellent tries. The first came from open-side Charlie Wallace after a powerful driving maul; the second came after a sublime offload from Blount giving Nat Jackson the outside line – the right winger scorched past the defence.
The third encapsulated the attacking prowess of the Blues with Hamilton-Fox coming off his wing and breaking superbly thought the middle and full-back Tom Hutchin entering the line superbly to give the Blues a 33-7 lead.
The Blues got carried away and a ball bounced to Gs, who showed if Chi gave it to them, they would be very dangerous. They scored between the uprights to make it 33-14.
After the break, against the wind and the slope, Chi had the upper hand but did not have it all their own way.
The Blues didn’t get the rub of the decisions and had to show real resolve.
Hamlton-Fox was forced to go off after being driven into the ground head-first and replacement back-row Alex Grace picked up a nasty elbow injury. But Chi kept their structure, Anscombe having an excellent game at No10.
A beautifully-timed run from Ben Robson cut the defence open and lovely hands from Lynch released winger Jackson, who stepped and left his winger for dead with a searing run outside. Golds hit a good supporting line to score under the posts – 40-14.
Gs had the better of the last ten minutes with a well-taken try down the middle to make it 40-21.
Gravesend searched for the bonus-point try but Chi defended well with tighthead Joe Woods leading from the coalface.
Paul Colley, Blues director of rugby, said: “There were real glimpses of what we are capable of and given the number of changes this was a very decent team performance. But there were still some areas Scott Ashley (head coach) will want to look at. A good effort but we are not getting carried away – we will need to improve as the season progresses.”
The next game is on Saturday, October 21, at home to Thurrock.
Chichester: Drayson, Belcher, Woods, Bount, Boulton, Davies, Wallace, Johnson, Seaman, Anscombe,Hamilton-Fox, Lynch, Robson, Jackson, Hutchin. Reps: Charlish, Grace, Golds.