Chichester RFC’s colts beat previously-unbeaten Sussex Premier League champions Horsham 27-14 in their eagerly-awaited Sussex Cup semi-final.
Having lost to Horsham only three weeks ago in a winner-takes-all league contest Chi knew how good their opponents were.
The players took to the field in front of a large crowd.
The young Blues started well but the rub of the green didn’t go Chi’s way with a run of penalties against them.
Horsham were very canny and sneaked a couple of penalties. With good lineout and loose ball they started to attack dangerously, but the Blues were up for the task with some tremendous defence – one tackle from Alex Margarson was a thunderbolt and Harry Blatch made numerous crunching tackles.
The Horsham No9 showed his class with an excellent dummy and was over. The No10 slotted the extras for a 7-0 lead.
The Blues regrouped with Elliot Quinten and Will Prior carrying hard and forced a penalty. Jack Martin slotted the three points.
They looked to up the tempo, with Joe Watts at hooker showing his pace and hitting the blue jumpers at lineout time.
As the half wore on, Chi drove well, sucking in defenders, and slick moving from the backs put young Elliot Haydon through just wide of the post. Martin bounced the conversion in off the post and Chi led 10-7
The second half started with the Blues gaining excellent territory with Martin going on a couple of nice runs and Josh Goodwin pulling strings from scrum-half.
But Horsham needed only one missed tackle to create a chance – the replacement back row breached a couple of soft tackles and their backs were away scorching in between the posts for a 14-10 lead.
Tyrese Makasi was everywhere in defence and attack surging up the pitch and Tom Ellis made a couple of excellent breaks. The Blues forced a penalty only five metres into the green half – Martin struck it beautifully and it sailed through the posts.
Chi stuck to their structures and stepped up in defence, piling pressure on the away side. But the Blues were still behind by a point. They made a couple of changes, then an enforced one through injury.
From another solid scrum with only a few minutes left, Goodwin made a lighting break and with the cover coming in on him he chipped perfectly for the onrushing Margarson to sprint through and win the chase. Martin converted and it was 20-14.
There was still a minute to play. Thumping tackles came in on the Greens to force the turnover and then Margarson hunted down the ball to score another – it was 27-14 amid jubilation.
Men of the match were Margarson and Blatch.
Chi director of rugby Paul Colley said: “It was a fantastic team performance – Horsham were a very good side but it think we just deserved it on the day.”
The Blues are through to the final for a second year. They face the same opponents as last year, Worthing, who will be packed with high-quality players.
A massive challenge awaits the young guns in the final this Sunday (April 30) at Crowbrough RFC (2pm). The lads need as much support as possible and a coach will be leaving Chichester Rugby Club at 10.15am – contact Iain Collyer at the club if you want to go.
Chichester: Will Prior, Cameron Moore, Luke Delaisse, Harry Blatch, Sam Henshall, Ben Mahony, Tyrese Makasi, Elliot Quinton, Josh Goodwin, Jack Martin, Alex Baxter, Alex Margarson, Tom Ellis, Rob Russell, Elliot Haydon, Alfie Montaque, Joe Watts, Hamish Minton, Hayden Scott, Fergus Bonar, Alfie Paige, Owen Seehawong. Non-playing reserves Joe Baird, Ethan Lawrence, Harry Varnes.
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