Discipline costs Blues dear at Wimbledon

Chichester on the attack in their last home game, against Eton Manor / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Chichester on the attack in their last home game, against Eton Manor / Picture by Kate Shemilt

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CHICHESTER lost a rather scrappy National three London south east encounter at Wimbledon 30-17 through their poor discipline.

After a very good start they gifted three comfortable penalties to the Dons’ reliable kicker Hallett. In the second half they received four yellow cards and it cost them at least a losing bonus point when the hosts scored their third try late in the game.

The one bright feature for them was the outstanding performance of Jack Maslen in attack and defence. The final defeat was by three converted tries and three penalties to two converted tries and a drop goal.

Blues were without Phil Veltom and Dean Bonds, while Toby Golds pulled a muscle in the warm-up. Maslen moved to full-back, Ben Robson replacing him on the right wing. Alex Marsh, still recovering from injury,had to join the bench.

An early penalty was missed as Chi went on the attack. They pushed Dons back in the scrum and drove on, Chris Johnson getting over the gain line. Fly half Richard Adams intercepted an ambitious pass by Dons and raced from half way to score under the posts. Maslen converted.

Dons had looked shaky in the tight but gradually got going with full-back Hallett and half-backs Morgan and Croke announcing their kicking tactics which continued.

Chi had given all they could in difficult circumstances but have lessons to learn.

An inadequate box kick by Chi inside their 22 allowed Dons backs to move the ball to the centre and win their first penalty conversion for offside. Another followed when a Don was obstructed chasing a long kick ahead.

Maslen and MacEnri showed their skill in covering and clearing two more probing kicks into empty space. Maslen charged up the touchline beating several tackles but a subsequent handling error by a forward ended a promising phase.

A sign of things to come was when Dons robbed the ball to stop a driving maul. Chi tried again from a scrum and the ball spun right. Adams received on the 22 and dropped a fine goal.

Maslen came to the rescue when a kick was charged down but Dons drove back to get a five-metre scrum. A Chi lock went just over the top of the ruck and the penalty was an easy shot in front of the posts – it was 10-9 to Chi and the next try would be crucial.

Play was equal but the Dons lineout was dominant with their jumper palming back quick ball to his scrum-half. They attacked a minute before the break and a low kick was cleverly sent to the posts.

Ben Polhill seemed to have won the chase to touch down for a drop out but the referee was not convinced and awarded Dons the try. Converted, it put the home side 16-10 up at half-time. Chi had matched them and were in with a reasonable chance if they could stop conceding penalties.

After the interval, Peni Naiyaga was held up in the tackle and ball lost. Dons mauled and with penalty, lineout and another maul they drove over showing well-drilled technique. It was converted.

Chi sent a penalty of their own to the left corner but lost the lineout, followed by knock-ons as they tried to claw back. Chi infringed against a drive maul and Naiyaga was awarded the first yellow card.

Replacement Aaron Davies was making a big difference in the lineout and Chi were competing. He led an attack which gave Robson his first run on the wing before being tackled out. A Chi drive was halted robustly and this caused an exchange of handbags and a warning from the referee to the captains.

Greater tempo and a combined operation by forwards and backs forced a penalty to the right corner.The ball was sent out hard-working prop Tom Belcher crashed across the line. Maslen converted and it was 23-17 to Dons.

Things looked better only for hopes to be dashed when Phil Dickin retaliated at a lineout and was sinbinned. The referee reversed the penalty award for Chi and as a direct result Dons mauled and scrummed forward against 14 opponents.

Chi tried desperately to prevent a third try but picked up another yellow card, this time for scrum-half Lester Pollard. Down to 13, Chi were under the cosh and Dons were mauling in their favourite corner.

Urged on by local supporters to show no mercy, the referee duly obliged as Chi collapsed the last drive on the line. A penalty try was converted and captain Johnson binned.

With just five minutes left the Chichester 12 went heroically to the other end but were held five metres out.

Chi had given all they could in difficult circumstances but have lessons to learn.

A rest this week is followed by a home match on November 7 against Bracknell (2.30pm).

CHICHESTER: Vedei, Richter, Belcher, Dickin, O’Callaghan, B Polhill, Naiyaga, Johnson, Pollard, Adams, MacEnri, T Polhill, Kirkpatrick, Robson, Maslen, Omar, Davies, Marsh.

ROGER GOULD

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