Ballistic Blues’ fire is too heavy for Hove

Chichester score one of their 11 tries against Hove  Picture by Louise Adams C131309-1
Chichester score one of their 11 tries against Hove Picture by Louise Adams C131309-1

Chichester gave a first-rate performance, overwhelming Hove 68-21 with fast-flowing rugby in a London one south clash at Oaklands Park.

In the second half they went ballistic and perfect combination between forwards and backs tore Hove’s defence to shreds.

The final tally was 11 tries, five conversions and a penalty to two tries, a conversion and three penalties.

The whole squad played well with Tom Belcher, Chris Johnson and Leon Driscoll outstanding. Johnson set an individual try record for the club in this league, crossing the try line four times.

The first 40 minutes had been fairly even with Hove showing promise but half-time counselling sent the Blues over the top again like men possessed.

Chichester are now second behind Gravesend, who had an even bigger win over Haywards Heath and are likely to set the pace.

Ben Polhill returned as captain and the half-back pairing was Ed Durkin and Henry Anscombe. Phil Dickin moved to the second row.

It was good to see four seriously-injured Blues on the touchline supporting their comrades.

Chichester kicked off badly and were soon penalised, Hove just short with the kick. The Blues pressed and Anscombe stroked a penalty from in front of the posts.

The visitors tried a quick drop out to the left wing which was intercepted by Rory Tanner, who kicked on and followed at great speed. He showed a clean pair of heels for 50 metres and went over at the posts. The conversion by Anscombe made it 10-0.

Dickin was prominent picking up loose ball out of defence but Hove countered with a smart run on the left wing, their man skipping past three tackles.

They switched to the right but Anscombe kicked clear fom the 22 and Tanner followed like a greyhound past the Hove backs, gathered the ball and sprinted across for a fine try.

Chichester obstructed and Davies made it 15-3 with the penalty kick. He kicked two more and Chi received a yellow card for infringement.

The forwards launched a huge drive, second phase forced the visitors back over their line for a five-metre scrum and No8 Johnson was unstoppable from the back.

At 20-9, Aaron Davies came off the bench and made an immediate impact, taking lineout ball and feeding mobile prop Belcher to drive on.

Jack Bentall tried a kick over the top but it went too far, and a bad defensive clearance went straight to Hove full-back Whiting on halfway. He hoisted a towering kick and followed brilliantly to catch it and score with the Chi defence nowhere to be seen. The conversion was put away by Davies.

Chi had another strong attack but were held upon the try line, so led 20-16 at the break.

The onslaught began after eight minutes. Durkin was held but from a five-metre scrum, Johnson broke a tackle and crashed over. Driscoll converted.

Two more substitutes came on, with Will Turner making his debut at prop.

Billy Toone sent the ball out to the backs with Bentall and Johnson breaking through and the offload found Davies accelerating and scooping to to power over for the bonus try - 32-16.

A superb break by hooker Mark Giddings led to good handling by Belcher and Turner with the final pass to left winger Driscoll, whose dancing feet took him to a corner score. Tanner was nearly through and from a resulting lineout Nick Blount set up Belcher to show his strength again, crossing the line to make it 44-6.

Polhill and Dickin continued to snaffle the ball at ground level and Johnson was explosive from the rear of scrums and rucks. By now, Hove were reeling and becoming demoralised.

Another excellent handling move between Sam Renwick, Dickin, Johnson and Morris gave a last pass to Driscoll, who paraded his footwork to hurtle along the touchline beating desperate tackle attempts at the flag. The conversion by Anscombe was from wide out.

Chi were relentless and Giddings took a floated pass from Driscoll, stampeding 30 metres and swallow-diving under the posts. Anscombe converted for a 58-16 lead.

Toone showed his determination and jinking skills to push Hove back from a brave counter attack. A penalty put Chi back to Vulture’s Corner and a lineout and drive saw Johnson peeling off to dive over on the blindside.

Renwick showed his impressive shimmy as Chi broke through one more time. His well-timed pass gave the galloping Johnson his fourth success, this time from 20 metres.

Hove had the last word with some pressure on the Chi 22 and good hands which eventually gave Whitng his second good try.

This weekend, Chichester go to Chobham for a tough game against an in-form team.

CHICHESTER: Wheeler, Giddings, Belcher, Blount, Dickin, Goldie, Polhill, Johnson, Durkin, Anscombe, Driscoll, Bentall, Renwick, Tanner, Morris. Reps: Turner, Davies, Toone.