Dover demolition makes Chichester early top dogs

Desperate defence from Dover as they battle to keep Chichester in check  Picture by Louise Adams
Desperate defence from Dover as they battle to keep Chichester in check Picture by Louise Adams

Chichester began the new London one south season with the highest score of the day in their league - a 41-8 win at home to Dover.

It was also their biggest win in nine matches against their tough opponents as they scored seven tries and three conversions to one try and a penalty.

They missed chances in the first half through rusty handling but they cut loose in the second and played extremely well. The visitors competed hard for 50 minutes but were then torn apart by penetrating attacks and conceded five tries in 20 minutes.

Although the Blues have lost four regulars to other clubs, they are glad to have recruited centre Jack Bentall, winger Tim Cook, lock Aaron Davies and flanker James McCloughlin, all of whom made successful debuts.

Andy Gray has switched from the back row to hooker and he was prominent. Ex-Haywards Heath scrum-half Tom Taylor will be able to play for the Blues until the middle of the month.

New captain Jon Lindsay led the Blues out in bright sunshine and they were greeted by their loyal supporters eager for a bright start to the campaign in what promises to be a fiercely-competitive division.

But Dover struck first with a fine penalty kicked by fly-half Phillips.

Chi pressed but several promising moves were spoilt by butter fingers. Chris Johnson caused Dover big problems as his speed and strength won loose ball and set up attacks.

Dover deliberately infringed three times to prevent a try and the referee sent a player to the sin bin. Chi’s fourth penalty to the corner paid off as they drove to the line and Johnson touched down. The conversion from Richard Adams was successful.

Bentall got over the gain line each time he received the ball and it took late tap tackles to bring him down. A thrust by him and Adams sent Ross Fairbairn on a run but he was tackled into touch.

There was a feisty struggle at a midfield maul as the forwards locked horns. Nick Shopland showed his muscles before the shirt was ripped off his back.

Davies and Niall Goldie were winning their lineout ball and the scrum was solid against experienced operators. A dangerous Dover raid was spoilt by their tackled player holding on the ground.

A Bentall break was stopped by a last tackle and at the other end Chichester had to scramble to clear a Dover interception. It was 7-3 at half-time - disappointing as Chi had won most of the terrritory.

Dover rolled up their sleeves and for a few minutes dominated. One move foundered on a knock-on and a penalty struck an upright and rebounded to Taylor. They were on the attack again when one of their forwards received an immediate yellow card for skullduggery in a ruck.

The Blues finally engaged top gear. They attacked to the right to Harry Seaman then swung left with a half-break. A pass by Adams sent the stylish Sam Renwick racing over for an overdue second try.

Taylor showed how to bounce a ball into touch with a superb long kick.The backs got going and the ball went through slick hands for Seaman to cross near the right corner.

Another well-judged Taylor kick was chased by Seaman and he overcame an attempted tackle to pick up and score at the posts. Adams added the extras and it was 24-3.

Dover pushed towards the Chi 22 but Gray ripped the ball from them and Adams fed the long-striding Renwick for the fifth try.

The Blues were in charge and Dover buckled. Cook broke through and set up Taylor to ghost through a gap and squeeze in at the left corner.

Dover picked up and exerted some pressure, full-back Eldridge grabbing a consolation try. Chi rounded off the day to the delight of supporters when Toby Golds sprinted through a gap, beat the cover and dived across the try line. A conversion by Adams completed the scoring.

Head coach Rob Lawrence was pleased with the performance, as was director of rugby Paul Colley, who said: “It went well despite some typical first-game errors in the first half. We then created and took our chances.

“The new men had good games - Renwick’s movement gave us width and Johnson, Bentall and Gray were outstanding.”

This week Chi have a tricky fixture against Sussex rivals Hove at Oaklands Park (3pm).

CHICHESTER: Woods, Gray, Shopland, Lindsay, Davies, Goldie, McCloughlin, Johnson, Taylor, Adams, Cook, Bentall, Renwick, Fairbairn, Golds. Subs: Veltom, T Polhill, Seaman.