Rugby: Dover downed as Chichester maintain their lead at the top

Phil Veltom touches down for Chichester against Dover  Picture by Louise Adams
Phil Veltom touches down for Chichester against Dover Picture by Louise Adams

Chichester kept their six-point lead at the top of London one south with a solid 37-14 win over Dover by four tries, four conversions and three penalties to two tries and conversions.

It was Dover’s biggest loss so far and the Blues’ third double. The visitors were tough as usual but mistakes and infringements cost them dear when trying desperately to prevent possession.

Chichester fly-half Stuart Pearham succeeded with all the place kicks and collected 17 points.

Martin O’Callaghan started in the second row and Jack Taggart at No8, Moses Kasujja moving to blindside flanker.

The Blues went ahead in just over a minute after the backs attacked and forwards drove towards the right corner. Pearham showed vision with a superb crossfield kick to unmarked centre Manoa Satala, who touched down. Pearham added the extras.

Dover seized on a mistake and penetrated down the middle then kicked to the corner to begin a series of lineouts, rucks and scrums. Chichester defended well and held them before gaining a turnover to clear.

Chichester won quick ball and Pearham kicked the first penalty for offside to make it 10-0.

Richard Adams impressed with a huge touch kick followed by a forwards drive from halfway to the 22. The ball was spun across and Billy Toone was upended a metre short of the line after he came round to take the final pass.

Left winger Toby Golds fielded a high kick inside his 22 and, as a graduate of the Adams school of dancing, he stepped and jinked past half a dozen opponents. It was admired by his fan club but it was ended by a rather high tackle.

Pressure mounted on the Dover defence which held up another drive. Taggart made good ground for the backs to try again. Richard.Deed picked up cleverly and passed to Satala to chip over the top but an awkward bounce prevented a score by the onrushing Adams.

Toone left the field and was replaced at scrum-half by Chris Wagstaff.

Deed tried an ambitious long-range drop kick but it crash-landed quickly. Dover broke out but a pass to the centre was smartly intercepted by Satala and he raced 45 metres to score near the posts. Pearham was in the groove and made it 17-0 at half-time.

There was an interesting battle going on in the tight, with experienced Dover campaigners striving to contain Chichester’s forward power. But with the super-fit Ben Polhill doing the work of an extra player, they were giving away penalties in the rucks. The tall locks on both sides were winning their own lineouts but Chichester had won most loose ball.

A minute into the second period, Dover killed the ball in the ruck and Pearham slotted the penalty, soon followed by another for infringement to stop the blue tide.

Dover’s backs handled well on a raid but Polhill took over, stealing the ball and feeding Wagstaff to clear. They came again and a penalty to the right corner gave them lineout, drive and ball to the backs.

Sedgwick was awarded a try despite Blues being sure Golds was below him and the ball was not grounded. Phillips added extras.

A long period of Blues pressure started with a lineout drive initially held up but Phil Veltom seized a second chance and dived over. The conversion made it 30-7.

Prop Ash Wheeler took a knock and Nick Shopland came on. Nick Blount was a lock replacement. Polhill and Kasujja linked, supported by a Pearham grubber kick which forced a lineout. Captain Scott Barlow soared and fed back to Kasujja who hurtled down the blindside to round and touch down near the posts for the bonus point.

Polhill ran 35m evading tackles to set up good position.Dover kept infringing and the hosts kicked three times to the corner without reward.

After five minutes added time Dover ran to the other end and split the Chichester centres for Annakie to grab a consolation try, Sedgwick converting.

Backs coach Richard Isaac said: “We had some purple patches when our intensity produced very good rugby. Our backs play has stepped up and we had better balance. Stuart Pearham was in his best kicking form.”

This week Chichester go to Sidcup, who are unbeaten at home. It will be a vital game as Guernsey and Old Elthamians continue the chase for promotion. All support welcome.

CHICHESTER: Wheeler, Lawrence, Veltom, Barlow, O’Callaghan, Kasujja, Polhill, Taggart, Toone, Pearham, Golds, Satala, Deed, Adams, Knowles, Shopland, Blount, Wagstaff.