CHICHESTER slipped to a fifth straight league loss following a 37-12 reverse at Westcombe Park in the National Three London South East on Saturday.
Chi, who defeated Westcombe last season, would have gone into the clash full of confidence following a spirited display against East Grinstead last time out.
The game turned on a fine second-half showing from the home side.
Chi put in a good performance in the opening 40 minutes and they trailed by just three points.
But the second saw them pinned in their own half for almost the entirety and they conceded 22 points without reply.
Head coach Rob Lawrence faced a selection headache going into this contest with injuries and player unavailability.
Despite being without a few first-team regulars Chi made a strong start.
They won the opening line-out of the contest and drove forward.
The backs handled in phases but knocked on in the tackle. A poor short kick was run back as Westcombe scrummed hard.
Combe began to get themselves in the contest and bagged the first try of the day.
A misplaced throw from Chi allowed the home side to take full advantage with Frankie Neale going over.
James Cameron then kicked over the extras as Combe went 7-0 ahead.
But back came Chi and they reduced the deficit to just two points following fine work from Phil Dickin.
Dickin chased down an attempted clearance before going over 20 metres right of the posts.
Unfortunately for Chi the extras were missed so they were still two points behind.
After Chi had shown some effective short passes there was a fracas at the next scrum with punches thrown.
Hooker Mark Giddings had received a finger in the eye and went off. Blues took a tap penalty and ran into trouble; Combe turned them over and they whipped the ball to the left. Their backs offloaded smoothly for supporting lock Dale Bellinger to score their second try at the flag.
Cameron fired a difficult conversion wide but Combe still led 12-5.
But once again Chi fought back and this time levelled the scores at 12 apiece.
Ed Bowden snatched a loose ball before finding Jon Lindsay who went over. Alex Marsh then made no mistake with the conversion as Chi got themselves level for the first time.
The home side proved to be dangerous with half-time fast approaching. This time a fast sweeping move from their backs meant Chi were caught offside.
Combe were awarded a penalty with the last play and Cameron kicked over to ensure his side lead 15-12 at the interval.
Chi were given a big boost with Combe’s skipper sin-binned on 45 minutes following a deliberate shoulder charge.
The visitors’ backs attacked but Marsh was tackled out into touch.
That venture forward proved to be one of the last for Chi in the clash as Westcombe began to dominate.
The home side were on top from that point and any hopes of a surprise away win quickly faded away.
Classy Neale embarked on a dashing run down the right evading a number of attempted Chi tackles.
This meant Chi were driven back over their own line and were forced to go offside.
Cameron kicked over his second penalty of the day to make it 18-12.
The pressure continued and, despite a strong tackle from Dean Bonds, Chi eventually succumbed to Combe’s speed of transfer.
A neat grubber kick to the right wing brought a driving maul and Shaun Dixon touched down his side’s third try of the day.
Cameron fired the extras wide but Chi still trailed 23-12 with time fast running out.
Richard Adams was then shown a yellow for Chi and Dowding was forced off injured to add to their problems.
Combe were beginning to look a deadly force and a fourth try soon followed.
Chi scrambled and Bonds somehow rescued but Neale still managed to dive over and add to the travelling side’s misery.
Cameron kicked over his third conversion of the day as Combe moved 18 points ahead of their opponents.
Jack Maslen kicked forward as Chi went in search of a consolation but his effort went dead in a deserted Combe half.
The visitors were now beginning to find it even more tricky as players were tiring.
Combe’s right-winger Gray took full advantage and went over for a fifth try of a dominant afternoon.
Cameron was on hand to fire over a fine conversion to ensure it ended 37-12.
Chichester must regroup and pull together ahead of their home league contest with Shelford at Oaklands Park on Saturday.
A big home crowd would be much appreciated by the team as they go in search of a much-needed success on home turf.
CHICHESTER: Dowding, Giddings, Veltom, Lindsay, Dickin, Johnson, Grace, Bowden, Seaman, Adams, MacEnri, Robson, Marsh Bonds, Maslen, Richter, O’Hagan, Pollard.
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