Rugby: Brilliant Belcher leads the Blues’ charge

Tom Belcher on his way t one of his tries  Picture by Louise Adams C131612-3
Tom Belcher on his way t one of his tries Picture by Louise Adams C131612-3

Chichester outgunned Staines from the kick-off and won by nine tries and six conversions to two converted tries in this one-sided London one south tussle - 57-14 the final score.

Tom Belcher scored four tries in the first 45 minutes - not only that, he was tighthead prop and sprinted to score on each occasion. This record is unlikely to be equalled anywhere.

There was plenty of open running rugby and gallant Staines joined in, getting consolation tries in a good spell in the second half. Despite a bushy moustache, Chi full-back Dean Morris kicked their six conversions.

Blues were mindful of their huge game at Gravesend this week and made several changes. They scored after five minutes when centre Tom Polhill was tackled after a break. The ball rucked and sent to the right wing, where Belcher appeared and took a pass. He ran hard to the corner and around the posts for a converted try.

A minute later Staines dropped a ball in the centre, Chi booted 30 metres and and Lewis Harte’s follow-up speed was too hot for the defence as he bagged the second try.

The visitors probed and their open-side flanker made good ground but a cross-kick was brought back for a Chi penalty.

Aussie back rower Lee Latu came on from the bench to make his debut. Captain Jon Lindsay and Tom Jackson combined neatly and the try line beckoned but the referee decided the ball had been juggled forward.

The lively Billy Toone was next to break through with Morris and Polhill continuing the attack before sending Belcher on his second gallop, this time along the left touchline. He delivered a firm hand off to tacklers and went over and partly around for the conversion to succeed, making it 19-0.

Forwards and backs inter-passed with great confidence and Toone delivered to supporting Belcher for another sprint and a dive into the corner.

It meant the bonus point had been earned after 36 minutes.

Inside-centre Jack Bentall rounded things off when drives and phased passing gave the opening to score just left of the posts. The conversion made it 31-0 at the break.

Staines restarted brightly with a promising attack but Polhill was able to make a big clearance kick. Bentall, Ed Durkin and Morris found the irrepressible Belcher hurtling down the right and he broke a last tackle to crash down at the flag.

Chi raids on both sides of the field led to more slick handling for Harte to finish with his second try. The conversion was made from wide.

Staines began to get possession and their right winger posed a threat with pace. However, their maul was robbed craftily by Polhill, who ran in under the posts from 30 metres. The conversion brought up 50 on the board.

The Blues had become rather extravagant with flicked offloads and some passes went into touch instead of hands. Latu was regularly getting over the gain line and more scores looked probable but, to their credit, Staines rallied, especially when their player-coach came off the bench to tighthead.

A loop around move by their backs impressed and the determined coach Hugett got across for their first score, which was converted.

Chi replied when Phil Veltom and Harte took play back to the Staines 22. The ruck was efficient and Latu ploughed over for their final try and conversion.

Staines refused to surrender and when a Chi kick rebounded they picked up and worked phases, replacement Major diving over for the very last score and conversion.

Belcher said he was grateful to his team-mates for their passes. He was certainly the man of the match and he might have scored more than four if he hadn’t received a knock and left the pitch with 25 minutes left.

Blues go to powerful Gravesend on Saturday - they are in second place because of Chi’s extra bonus points. The Kent side have won all their home games by big margins and they want to return to national three by winning this league.

Chi know they have to perform for the full 80 minutes. Support in such a big game away from home would be warmly welcomed and there will be room on the team coach.

CHICHESTER: Turner, Gingell, Belcher, Lindsay, Stride, Wallace, Goldie, Dickin, Toone, Cook, Jackson, Bentall, T Polhill, Harte, Morris, Veltom, Latu, Durkin.

ROGER GOULD