Chichester down Dover to get league bid back on track

Tim Cooke is snared by the Dover centre  Picture by Kate Shemilt C131386-2
Tim Cooke is snared by the Dover centre Picture by Kate Shemilt C131386-2

Chichester always expect a very physical battle against Dover and are never disappointed. On this occasion, they secured a bonus-point 33-11 win at Oaklands Park to move up to third in London one south.

They rose to the challenge with commitment and hard graft which brought them three tries and a bonus point in the second half. The final tally was four tries, two conversions and three penalties for Chicheser and just a try and two penalties to Dover. The home team moved back up to third in the table.

Dover fielded their strongest pack with experienced warriors and were in confident mood after a big win over Hove in the previous game. But they were their own worst enemies by incurring three yellow cards - and one player was fortunate not to be sent off after an incident in the 24th minute.

They had a real chance at half-time but they could not sustain it and the Blues increased their intensity and speed to emerge worthy winners.

Niall Goldie and Ben Polhill returned to the back row, Phil Dickin replaced Chris Johnson - who is now back at university - at No8. Ube Onyekwelu made his debut on the left wing and supporters were pleased senior men Phil Veltom and Moses Kasujja were on the bench ready for the call.

Within five minutes the referee had set a new record, penalising both scrum-halfs for crooked feeds. Dover moved towards the right corner, won a scrum against the head and fly-half Phillips kicked the resulting penalty.

Chi replied instantly when the visitors fumbled the drop-out and after some scrambling, Goldie swooped and and broke through for the first try, converted by Henry Anscombe for a 7-3 lead.

Chichester kicked a penalty into Vulture’s Corner and after lineout and drive would have scored, but the referee gave them a penalty instead of advantage just five metres out. They knocked on at the second lineout.

Ube had his first touchline run before being tackled but Dover were soon mauling impressively, Tom Jackson tackling hard as the ball was shipped outside.

Following a kick for territory, Dover seized the ball and worked phases before releasing to their backs. An overlap was created and outside-centre Charge put debutant full-back Booty across at the right flag.

Prop Ash Wheeler had tackled and rucked well before he was kicked on top of the head after play had moved on.

Centre Jack Bentall had a good run beating tackles and Billy Toone and Polhill probed deep. Dover infringed at a tap penalty and Anscombe slotted three points from in front of the posts.

The Kent men hit back and it was nip and tuck between the 22s. The front rows locked horns and rutted with high energy, back rows scrapped for every loose ball and the lineouts were competitive with towering catches by both sides.

Dover’s hooker was sin-binned and the first cracks were emerging. The Blues opened up, the backs showing good hands and Polhill scything through twice, with Nick Blount also going close.

A penalty was won and Anscombe obliged to make it 13-8 at the break.

Both teams knocked on in attacks but Chichester were soon in the groove. Toone, Polhill and Goldie passed smoothly, fly-half Tim Cook made a fine break and popped it to Blount who offloaded with style for mobile Tom Belcher to take and crash over. Anscombe converted.

Cook kicked long to touch, the Chi.forwards drove on and excellent phases won another penalty which Anscombe kicked beautifully from wide out.

Veltom ran on, later joined by Kasujja, both to warm applause. Great passing and another drive saw Dover’s scrum half sent to cool off for ten minutes.

Dover defended stoutly,winning a five-metre scrum and Phillips clearing with a long touch. Back came the Blues, with hard-working Dickin getting a touchdown. Polhill prevented a Dover break, Bentall surged forward and the Dover No8 was not only miles offside but deliberatey obstructed.

Another yellow card preceded a Chi drive to the line and Veltom was tackled five metres out. The ball was sent left across the backs and quick hands put Anscombe in for the fourth try and a bonus point, 33-11 the score.

Dover looked for a consolation score and continued to show muscle in the forwards, but solid clearances by Jackson and Anscombe kept them at bay. The play became a little scrappy but Belcher gave some final excitement as he sprinted 30 metres up the left touchline - a desperate tackle stopped him.

Chichester had prospered as a result of the battle won by the forwards and the backs had demonstrated their passing skill. There was no hangover from the big defeat at Chobham and they now go back to Surrey to face another talented team, Cobham, this Saturday. Kick-off is at 3pm - all support welcome.

CHICHESTER: Wheeler, Giddings, Belcher, Lindsay, Blount, Goldie, Polhill, Dickin, Toone, Cook, Onyekwelu, Bentall, Jackson, Driscoll, Anscombe, Veltom, Kasujja, Renwick.

ROGER GOULD