Chichester enjoyed a 39-32 derby win over Havant in a pulsating derby on Saturday.
Chichester made eight changes to the team that lost to Camberley, in monsoon conditions, last time out. Dane Gingell, Phil Veltom, Chris Johnson and Ed Bowden came into the pack, Harry Seaman started at scrum half, Toby Golds and Sam Renwick joined the backs with Jon Lindsay on the bench.
A glorious early autumn afternoon attracted a large crowd, many of whom had made the short journey along the A27. Both teams had a Gareth Davies playing at fly half.
Chichester kicked off down the slope and put Havant under immediate pressure. An opposition knock-on in their 22 gave Chichester the ball and Ed Jenkinson the opportunity to stretch his legs. He was tackled close to the corner flag and the forwards went to work probing the Havant defence.
A change of direction caught the defenders napping and Callum Gibson crashed over for a try after only 2 minutes. Converted by Charlie Norton. 7 - 0.
From the restart Blues conceded a penalty and Havant kicked for touch. The lineout was over thrown and Chichester collected the loose ball. A high kick was gathered by Chris Johnson who fed Ed Bowden out wide. Having gained 30 metres Bowden offloaded to Charlie Wallace whose jinking run was ended 5 metres from the line, with a scrambled defence from Havant.
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The opposition turned the ball over and Chichester infringed at the ruck allowing Havant to relieve the pressure.
They knocked-on from the lineout and immediately found themselves under pressure again as Chichester passed the ball across the line. An infringement gave Chichester a penalty and a kick for touch. A long ball found Johnson at the back of the line and he set off for the try line. An excellent tackle brought him down 5 metres out. The ball was recycled but Havant turned the ball over and once again were able to clear their lines.
The attack was stopped illegally by Blues just inside their half and the Havant penalty kick was just off target. From the drop-out Bowden intercepted the ball and Chichester once again went on the attack, led by the marauding Johnson. The ball was chipped over the top by Rhys Thompson for Jenkinson to chase. The Havant clearance found touch and from the lineout the ball passed along the Chichester backs. Havant stopped the attack illegally and Norton kicked the penalty. 10 - 0 after 15 minutes and Havant looking out of sorts. 5 minutes later Chichester were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card and Havant were finally on the scoreboard with the converted penalty. 10 - 3. Despite being a man down Chichester applied more pressure.
A penalty kick was missed but from the drop-out Norton received the ball gathering it for a superb offload to Thompson, pass to Veltom and on to Wallace. Harry Seaman recycled the ball to Veltom whose pass found the flying Thompson, who rounded the defender to dot down close to the posts. Converted by Norton. 17 - 3. From the restart Havant finally put together an attack that found them with an overlap out wide and a simple inside pass beat the Blues’ defence in the corner.
Conversion missed. 17 - 8. With Chichester returning to a full complement it was Havant’s turn to lose a player with a yellow card. With time nearly up, Blues continued to run the ball and were rewarded with a penalty 30 metres out which Norton kicked. 20 - 8. From the restart Havant attacked with Chichester defending their try line. Having defended resolutely a penalty was finally conceded and Havant kicked for touch. Blues repelled the driving maul, but the ball was recycled on the blindside and the opposition hooker touched down in Vultures Corner. Conversion missed. 20 - 13. Half time.
With the second half less than a minute old Jenkinson gathered a kick in the Chichester 22 and went on a jinking run.
The ball was recycled to Johnson who set off at pace, passing to Sam Renwick then back to Johnson before a final looping inside pass back to Renwick who split the defence, for a try under the posts. Converted by Norton. 27 -13. Havant responded and soon found themselves with a scrum 10 metres out. The Blues’ defence was caught napping and the ball was dotted down under the posts. Converted. 27 - 20.
Having reduced the deficit to a converted try, Havant continued to apply pressure but were unable to break down Chichester’s defence. With the attack 10 metres from Blues’ try line both sides were shown yellow cards and Chichester awarded a penalty, allowing them to clear their lines. However, this was very short lived and Havant were soon back in the home side’s 22.
The ball was passed across the pitch and the last man battered his way through the Chichester defence to touch down next to the corner flag. Converted. 27 - 27 and still 25 minutes left to play. From the restart Havant spilled the ball which was picked up by Wallace and passed to Toby Golds. After a little juggling, by the Blues’ winger, the ball was passed on to Bowden out wide who went around the last man and just got across the line in the corner, as the tackle came in.
A bonus point try and exceptional conversion from Norton. 34 - 27. From the restart Havant were straight back on the attack and, despite the best efforts of Chichester, were soon crossing the whitewash for the fifth try. Conversion missed. 34 - 32 and still 18 minutes to play. The ball was knocked on from the restart and Chichester mounted an attack.
The ball was passed across the whole back line and ended in a tackle 2 metres from the try line. Chichester were deemed to have infringed and Havant had the opportunity to clear the danger from the penalty. The kick didn’t find touch and Chichester attacked again. A grubber kick from Golds bounced awkwardly for the Havant fullback who found himself isolated and surrounded by four attackers.
A hurried clearance kick found Seaman who put Bowden away on the outside but, having hurdled the first tackler he was bundled in to touch. With pressure on both sides to secure a first win of the season cheap penalties were being given away and neither team was threatening the try line.
With the clock running down Chichester knocked on in the opposition half. The ball was dropped after the subsequent scrum and Seaman had the quickest reactions, picking it up and sprinting for the try line. It was offloaded to Wallace then Lindsay and finally Seaman picked up and darted over the line to score Chichester’s fifth try. Conversion missed. 39 - 32. Both sides were shown red cards for an incident after the try was scored.
A tired looking Havant team threw everything at Chichester and spent the final few minutes of the game camped in the Blues’ 22. However, the Chichester defence stood firm and an opposition infringement allowed Davies to kick for touch and end the game. Full time and 39 - 32.
A pulsating local derby, with 10 tries and end to end action. Hopefully this vital win will kick-start Chichester’s season. The supporter’s man of the match was Charlie Norton.
Chichester squad: Gingell, Brown, Veltom, O’Callaghan, Gibson, Johnson, Bowden, Wallace (Captain), Seaman, Davies, Golds, Thompson, Renwick, Jenkinson, Norton, Maxfield, Lindsay and McLagan
Next Saturday (6th of October) Chichester entertain newly promoted Dartfordians at Oaklands Park. Kick-off is at 15:00.