Chichester set for third assault on National League

Jack Bentall is the new CRFC first XI captain / Picture by Kste Shemilt

Jack Bentall is the new CRFC first XI captain / Picture by Kste Shemilt

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The big rugby-season kick-off arrives for Chichester tomorrow.

In their third season in National three London and south east, Chichester will face 13 teams, all of whom are likely to be strong opponents.

The line-up comprises Amersham and Chiltern, Colchester, Dorking, Guernsey, Guildford, Hertford, Shelford, Southend, Sutton and Epsom, Tonbridge Juddian, Westcliff, Westcombe Park and Wimbledon.

Dorking and Southend have come down from National two south, while Sutton, Guildford and Amersham were promoted from London one level.

Chi start with consecutive away games at Westcombe (tomorrow, Sep 3) and Guernsey (Sep 10) and will have their first game at Oaklands Park versus Shelford on September 17 (3pm).

Last season they won seven games at home but only three on the road. It is especially important that they improve their success rate on their travels despite the long journeys.

The Blues have lost and gained players,but they are very pleased to welcome back from long-term injury lineout specialist Nick Blount, utility forward Phil Dickin and centre-back Sam Renwick.

The new captain is local farmer Jack Bentall, an experienced flanker who is well known for his strength and mobility. Supporters know he will inspire his men.

Director of rugby Paul Colley, head coach Rob Lawrence, forwards coach Ken Dowding and backs coach Danny Gray are optimisic and they have worked hard with all club players at training sessions.

The Blues will need a good second XV squad and they will also compete in a challenging league. Selection for both squads will reflect individual performances and team spirit will be fostered throughout.

Margins between wins and defeats are very small and errors costly. The emphasis will have to be on strength and speed, with fitness and skill basic requirements.

Tackling must be reliable and scoring chances taken clinically. The players are looking forward to their usual loyal support on the touchline, which makes such a difference in the heat of battle.

The extended clubhouse at Oaklands Park is splendid and is now a very large venue for refreshment and chat before and after matches.

I hope to see many rugby enthusiasts there on September 17 and trust all will support the Blues in a long season, come what may.

ROGER GOULD

An evening pre-seaon friendly between Chichester and Havant drew a big crowd to Oaklands Park.

Havant brought a big squad to face the Blues, who are looking to kick on at the next level at National three level.

The Blues started the quicker but couldn’t turn early possession into points and Havant took their chance well to lead 7-0.

Chi No10 Taff Davies controlled the game well – with centres Thompson and Jack Maslen looking dangerous going forward.

It wasn’t until the forwards got a bit more direct that the Blues could impose their game plan on the black and whites.

Player-coach Ken Dowding, back into the fray after injury, powered over from a well-worked lineout to make it 7-7 and then a great series of offloads led to a quick second score. Davies slotted the extras for a 14-7 lead.

Both sides showed plenty of endeavour with some high-quality moments – and some not so.

Henry Anscombe looked sharp at nine and back rowers Aaron Davies, Chris Johnson and Alex Grace won the battle at the collision.

Changes disrupted both sides but slowly the Blues secured a 28-7 victory with Mark Giddings showing his pace to sprint clear for the final score.

Both clubs got all their players game time and for Chi it was great to see three recent Colts get first-team experience – Ben Duvall, Russel Watmore and Jack Rugman can all be proud of their first-team debuts.

Danny Gray, CRFC attack coach, said: “It was a typical derby game and pre-season all rolled into one – there’s lots to work on but everyone got game time and when we got our structures right we looked very dangerous.

“There’s work to do before our first league game away to Westcombe Park on Saturday.”

Chichester RFC stage their second City Walls Pass on Sunday.

It involves teams from across the club and all age groups running from Oaklands Park down to the tennis club, along under the underpass, around the North Walls, along West Street, up North Street then back up Oaklands Park to score a try under the posts in front of the clubhouse.

The event – which starts at 11.45am – is in conjuction with the Everyone Active Festival and is designed to promote rugby and the club to the community.

With this being the club’s 90th anniversary season, they are hoping for a good turnout.

Chichester Colts v Sidcup Academy

Scorching sunshine greeted reigning Kent champions Sidcup for a pre-season warm up against Chichester Colts.

After last year’s very successful season, the colts know that with a number of players moving up to senior rugby or off to uni the successful transition of last year’s under-16s will be crucial.

The big Sidcup forwards capitalised on an unorganised defence to go 7-0 up with only three minutes gone.

The light blues slowly got into the game with Elliot Quinten showing his power to generate forward moves, and the lightning service of Josh Goodwin boosted the home team.

Tyrese Makasi was quick in support and two quick tries from Chichester with excellent movement of the ball allowed Baxter to smash through despairing defenders and Margarson used his deceptive pace and big step to tremendous effect to score another.

Jack Martin calmly slotted both the extras for Chichester to lead 14-7.

The Blues got on the scoresheet again and great lineout ball from Ethan Lawrance and swift transfer saw Varnes go on a ghosting run and Chi led 21-7 at the break.

Lots of changes followed and Sidcup started to gain the upper hand.

Sidcup drew it back to 21-19 and the game was on a knife-edge – things boiled over with Sidcup perhaps a little surprised at the Blues’ pace.

Loose-head Will Prior showed his form of last season with crunching tackles and huge power carries.

The forwards showed tremendous work rate with Lawrance, Makasi and Watts beating bigger opponents to the ball.

A great driving lineout splintered the white defence to make it 26-19 but Sidcup came back to reduce the deficit at 26-24. The Blues scored an excellent team try and a great conversion from Martin meant it was 33-24 – Sidcup had the last word and it ended 33-29.

Pony Moore, Colts head coach, said: “There were lots of positives particularly the way the two age groups started to blend together.”

Paul Colley, director of rugby, said: “At this stage there’s a real sense of anticipation for the new season. Sidcup came to play and were a decent outfit – the win gives us a solid start.”

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