Chichester made the first of three late-season visits to Kent to take on promotion-chasing Medway but came off second best, losing 29-15.
The pitch was in magnificent condition and a large crowd watched an entertaining London one south game which Medway won by three tries, one conversion and four penalties to Chichester’s three tries.
Chichester made five changes to the squad that drew at London Cornish last time out with Ben Deavall, Joe Woods, Declan Johnson, Nick Blount and Chris Johnson starting in the pack. Jack Bentall returned to inside centre, Dane Gingell started as hooker with Sam Drayson and Cameron Hopkins dropping to the bench.
After three minutes Chichester infringed at the breakdown and the Medway No10 stroked the penalty over from close to the touchline 35m out. Chichester advanced towards the Medway 22m line. Medway recovered the ball from a knock-on and counter-attacked with the forwards and backs combining well.
The ball arrived in the hands of the left wing who somehow managed to stay on the pitch as he was tackled and dotted down in the corner. Chichester conceded a further penalty on their 10m line and the kick went just wide.
Disaster struck as Gingell was forced to leave the field with a neck injury. Deavall moved to hooker and Drayson came on as loose head prop. Medway
then conceded two penalties in quick succession. The second was in front of the posts but rather than take the three points the ball was kicked into touch at the 22m line.
Chris Johnson found Nick Blount and the Chichester maul headed for the Medway try line. Johnson joined the pack as it gained momentum, touching down to end the move. A missed conversion meant it was 8-5.
Medway attacked and Toby Golds stopped a breakaway try, winning Chichester a penalty. From the kick to touch Chichester’s forwards moved down the pitch towards the opposition try line. Bentall, on a run from deep, was tackled 20 metres out. Harry Seaman picked up the ball, caught the Medway defence napping and ran in for a simple try – 10-8.
Two chances to increase the score were missed when Chichester failed to win their own lineout before a long-range penalty kick from the Medway No10, conceded for not rolling away, gave them an 11-10 interval lead.
Chichester were under pressure from the kick-off and conceded a harsh penalty in front of the posts for not rolling away – 14-10.
Three minutes later Chi were again in trouble. A clearance upfield was gathered by the Medway full-back and five passes and a ruck later the right winger scored a converted try.
Medway were reduced to 14 men after a yellow card but it was Medway who scored next after another infringement by Chichester.
Chi’s Jack Hamilton-Fox collected a Medway kick deep in his own half, jinked through the static opposition defence before off-loading to Johnson in full flight. Medway conceded a penalty stopping the powerful No8 on their 22m line.
Hamilton-Fox, now at scrum half, passed to Adrian Lynch, who created an overlap with a looping ball to Charlie Wallace for a pass to Ben Robson 22m out. Robson beat two defenders to touch down for Chichester’s third try – 24-15.
Chichester threw everything at Medway with Johnson making several runs and the opposition conceding penalties. However, the Medway defence absorbed the pressure.
With two minutes left the referee, who had an excellent game, showed Chi a yellow card. They conceded a penalty at a scrum on the 10m line. Medway kicked for the corner, secured the ball at the lineout and drove over for their third try.
Chichester: Deavall, Gingell, Woods, Johnson D, Pinhorne, Wallace, Blount, Johnson C, Seaman, Lynch, Hamilton-Fox, Bentall, Renwick, Robson, Golds, Drayson, Whatmore, Hopkins.
Chichester’s next match is on Saturday, April 7, when they go to Maidstone.