Chichester chalked up their second win of the season with an impressive performance, beating London Cornish 29-12 at an autumnal Oaklands Park.
They made three changes – Ryan Spriggs came into the pack, with Josh Cameron and Stewart Ellaby on the bench. Ben Polhill took over the captaincy from the injured Charlie Wallace.
The pitch, in perfect condition, was bathed in sunshine but gusting winds would be a challenge.
Blues kicked off towards Oaklands Pavilion. The clearance kick from Cornish was collected by Chris Johnson, who stormed forward. A pick and go from Joe Woods drew the penalty and a sublime kick from Gareth Davies found touch at the five-metre line.
Cornish deflected the throw back into their goal area and, under pressure from Josh Brown, touched down for a five-metre scrum to Chichester. Johnson picked the ball up from the back of the scrum but was stopped on the line.
Two further attempts were halted short before Woods dived under the defence to touch down. Charlie Norton converted from out wide.
Cornish made several attacks down the slope but the Blues defence stood solid.
A box kick from Harry Seaman was picked up by the Cornish defence but an errant pass provided Rhys Thompson the opportunity to demonstrate his soccer skills. Kicking the ball three times and making 30m he outstripped the opposition defence and picked up before touching down to score. It was converted by Norton.
From the restart Blues knocked on, infringed at the scrum and were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card for a high tackle.
Cornish opted for a scrum rather than the kick between the posts, conceding a penalty and allowing Chichester to temporarily clear their lines.
Still a man short, Chichester made a rare foray into the opposition half and the forwards went to work. Ten phases later Seaman fed the ball to Johnson who crashed through two defenders and stretched out to dot down. The conversion by Norton made it 21-0.
Handling errors crept in as both teams struggled to assert authority on the game. As the clock ran downbut the Blues were awarded three penalties close to the try line in Vultures’ Corner, but were unable to secure a bonus-point try before half-time.
London Cornish came out of the traps in the second half and spent the first ten minutes with the ball in the Blues half, without creating an opportunity.
Chichester secured the ball from a Cornish infringement and kicked for touch in the corner. Polhill won the ball in the lineout and the pack headed towards the opposition try line. What seemed like certain try was turned over and Cornish cleared.
Cornish spent several minutes camped on the Blues’ try line. They breached the defence but spilled the ball before it could be touched down.
Finally, an infringement in Vultures’ Corner provided the opposition with a tap and go on the five-metre line, catching the Blues’ defence out of position – 21-7.
Chichester moved the ball towards the Cornish 22m line and enjoyed sustained pressure. Seaman fed Davies, who passed to Thompson and sent Sam Renwick away on a looping run that took him outside the full-back and inside the winger for Chichester’s fourth try and the bonus point.
Blues were penalised for not releasing and further penalised for back-chat. Another quick tap and go caught Chichester’s defence flat-footed and a long pass found the Cornish scrum-half in space to touch down close to the posts – 26-12.
From the restart Chichester moved the ball towards the opposition 22m line attempting to maintain possession and run down the clock.
Cornish were penalised at a scrum, providing Norton with another attempt at the sticks. This time it sailed between the posts.
The five points keep the Blues in touch with the teams above them in the league.
Supporters’ MoM was Sam Drayson.
Chichester: Drayson, Brown, Woods, Taylor, O’Callaghan, Spriggs, Polhill, Johnson, Seaman, Davies, Golds, Thompson, Renwick, McLagan, Norton, Cameron, Makasi, Ellaby.
* There is no game this Saturday, but Chichester return to action on November 17 when they travel to Chobham (2.30pm).