Ups and downs of rugby – all in one Chichester afternoon

Sam Renwick escapes the clutches of the Tring centre  Picture by Louise Adams
Sam Renwick escapes the clutches of the Tring centre Picture by Louise Adams
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If you want to experience every emotion in one afternoon, visit Oaklands Park and watch the rugby.

Their 37-37 draw with Tring in National three London south east was a rollercoaster of a match was memorable for three facts: both teams scored five tries, three conversions and two penalties and their fly halves each kicked 12 of their points; a father and son played alongside each other in Chi’s front row, and there was a terrific fightback by the visitors in the second half after being 20-32 behind.

It was a fair result but Chi were disappointed they had to settle for three league points instead of gaining five. They conceded the final try in the last play of the game when they had 12 men left on the pitch after yellow cards.

The Blues were without Henry Anscombe and Joe Woods. Aaron Davies returned at lock, Leon Driscoll moved to full-back and Tom Jackson replaced him on the left wing. There was the usual large crowd with several supporters from Hertfordshire.

The first half was a procession of tries and kicks provided by two vulnerable defences. The visitors were first on the scoreboard with a lovely try in the right corner from a fluid move and a final backward flick pass to put winger Gayton over. Browne slotted the first of his conversions.

A Chi attack featured Jack Bentall, Driscoll, Ben Polhill and prop Will Turner, who ran under the posts. Richard Adams added his first conversion. Adams then slotted a penalty for offside.

Tring replied quickly and their speedy young backs were stopped by a Bentall tackle. Awarded a penalty at the ruck, they made it 10-10.

Chi went to the other end and Adams performed his famous snake-dance around anyone in his way and his pass sent Jackson through a wide gap to score halfway between the posts and left corner. The conversion missed.

Tring pressed for five minutes and Chi were stretched. A penalty to Tring for a high tackle was easily kicked.

Rory Tanner was forced out after a run on his wing, followed by a Blues drive and a break and kick ahead by Adams which went too far. Fine linking and passing by Tring was finished off by lock Baldwin for their second try and conversion to put them in the lead again.

Soon, Bentall scooped up a loose ball from a ruck and crashed across for a converted try.

With half-time approaching the ball was spun across to Tanner, who raced to the line and touched down before being converted. One more penalty was stroked from the 22 and it was 32-20.

Chi had a slight edge in the scrums and Phil Dickin and Nick Blount were catching their share of lineout ball. Most bets at the interval would have been on the Blues to win comfortably.

Polhill was winning the ball on the ground and the pack warmed up in the driving maul. But suddenly Tring sprang to life and they were denied by a last-ditch tackle and then their own knock-on.

From a lineout at the left corner flanker Radley was at the rear of the drive over to press down.

Chi went back to Vulture’s but were held up with their attempted drives and rucks.

Tring sent a high ball to the left but Tanner was there to intercept and hare 70 metres to score a great indivdual try, outsripping the hounds on his tail. The touch judges disagreed whether the conversion was successful and the referee said no so it was 37-25.

Bentall made a clean break and charged 40 metres for a one-on-one meeting with Tring’s impressive full-back, who tackled him well.

Tring counter-attacked from just outside their 22, the Chi defence was scattered and they conceded a fourth try scored by left winger Lepelaars. A conversion made it 37-32.

Chi made the mistake of retreating instead of facing up and this gave Tring the space they needed. Bentall was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle with eight minutes left. Tring attacked in force with scrums and rucks.

Chi knocked on in front of the posts and were under the cosh. They scrambled to clear but another disaster when Turner received a yellow card for a barge at the lineout. The 13 men did their best to hold on but with a minute to go Dickin was injured and had to leave, followed by Polhill with a yellow card for an offence near a ruck.

Tring were now faced by 12 defenders and made no mistake, drawing the tackles and prop Brown plunged through the inevitable gap at the right corner. That was last play except for the conversion attempt which passed outside the posts, much to the relief of the home supporters.

It was a dramatic end to an extraordinary game. No doubt, Chi coaches and players will have a long post-mortem which might include discipline, tactics and strategy for substitutions. This week brings another home game against Barnes (3pm). All support welcome once more.

CHICHESTER: Turner, J Shopland, Belcher, Davies, Blount, Polhill, Dickin, Johnson, Toone, Adams, Jackson, Bentall, Renwick, Tanner, Driscoll, N Shopland, Bowden, Lowe.

ROGER GOULD