Why Chichester's one-point win over HAC marked a new rugby club record
Chichester's 8-7 victory over HAC in London one south was a hard and close game on a pleasant afternoon at Oaklands Park.
Chichester just about deserved the win but the visitors were up for it and stretched the Blues.
It was the first league match at Chichester for the Honourable Artillery Company team and they gave a good account of themselves despite their modest league position. As they warmed up on a soft pitch, a couple of big guns in their pack were noted.
After being under the cosh for 20 minutes during the first half, Chi raised their game and went 8-0 ahead after the interval, only for HAC to reply with a converted try. The last minutes were tense.
Chi were forced to make changes. John Lindsay was at lock and Ryan Spriggs in the back row. Fijian soldier Matereti Waganisau made his home debut at No8. Gareth Davies moved to fly-half and Toby Golds to the right wing. On the bench Ben Robson returned from injury and Mark Giddings was welcomed back after long absence.
Chi started well and for ten minutes looked sharp with good handing phases into the enemy 22. But the Artillery boys went into action and beseiged Chi’s fortress. They pounded away but Chi were angry tigers in defence and the covering and tackling were excellent.
Matt McLagan had to save the day when he dramatically caught up and nailed an opponent as he was about to score at the posts. They finally conceded penalties and a yellow card in the red zone and after failing to get over the line, HAC opted to take one but missed badly. Chi broke out after their seven-man pack heaved and won a scrum. They threatened to score for the first time but mistakes undid them and a counter by HAC resulted in a rolling ball over the Chi try line which was hastily touched down for a drop out.
A good sign for Chi was some penetration by Rhys Thompson and McLagan, but half-time arrived without the scoreboard being troubled.
Chi had a pep talk and raised their game. Nick Blount soared in the lineout and the maul got going. Lindsay broke off from a scrum and made ground.
The pack turned the screw and after several thrusts to the line were just held, Tom Blewitt kicked a penalty.
A very high kick by Thompson led to a scrum and quick ball out to the backs. Slick hands made the gap for McLagan to beat a despairing tackle and dive across at the Vulture’s Corner flag. Difficult conversion missed, 8-0.
After a huge line kick by Blewitt, Shaun Baker was almost over but for a knock-on. Davies made a half-break on the right flank followed by a full break by Robson who was unlucky with his offload. HAC hit back and after several well-controlled phases,they put their powerful prop over at the posts. Converted, 8-7.
Thompson broke through again to feed McLagan but he was tackled short of the right corner. HAC lost a good position due to a forward pass and Chi were relieved to win a penalty at a scrum which enabled them to clear.
They won a long-range penalty in the last minute and decided to take it, but it drifted wide. They held on for the last seconds. So four league points gained and a total of 50 for the season means a solid eighth place out of 14. This was their fourth one-point home victory in a season, believed to be the club record.
MoM was Ben Deavall.
Chichester: Grayson, Makesi, Deavall, Lindsay, Blount, O’Callaghan (capt), Spriggs, Waganisau, Baker, Davies, McLagan, Thompson, Blewitt, Rowland, Golds, Giddings, Magda, Robson.