Chichester made eight changes to the team that lost to Dartfordians but couldn’t halt league leaders Brighton as they lost 44-21.
A hasty reorganisation was required after the Blues lost two of their front row on the morning of the match. Joe Woods, Ed Bowden, Ben Polhill and Ryan Spriggs were joined by Hungarian international Baz Magda in the pack, with Ed Jenkinson in the backs and Harry Sharpe on the bench. Charlie Wallace returned to captain the side.
The weather was glorious and the pitch in perfect condition and early on a wicked bounce provided Blues with the chance to gather, but the ball was knocked on.
From a lineout Brighton moved the ball across the pitch and a last-ditch tackle from Ed Jenkinson took the opposition winger into touch and stopped the home side taking an early lead.
Brighton conceded penalties in quick succession. Wallace took the ball at the lineout on halfway and fed Harry Seaman who released the backs. The ball zipped through the hands of Charlie Norton, Rhys Thompson, Matt McLagan and Toby Golds to Jenkinson on the right wing. Two dummies at speed wrongfooted defenders but as he crossed the try line a tackle dislodged the ball for a knock-on.
Brighton probed Blues’ defence without finding a gap. The home side started to use their superiority in the pack to push Blues back and draw penalties.
A kick to touch provided a lineout five metres out and Brighton drove over for their first try.
Chichester again found themselves pinned down in their own half. From a Chichester scrum Chris Johnson picked up and went on one of his trademark runs, before offloading to Wallace who scorched through a gap in the Brighton defence to dot down. It was converted by Norton for a 7-5 lead.
Both sides were guilty of poor handling and some of the kicking from hand was disappointing. Brighton started to use their forwards, causing Chichester to concede penalties. After several phases on the Chichester line the Brighton scrum half burrowed under the Blues defence to touch down, converted.
Blues conceded a penalty in kicking range for holding on, making their half-time deficit 15-7.
By seven minutes into the second half, Brighton had crossed the try line twice to lead 25-7.
Chichester were reduced to 14 players after a yellow card. Brighton kicked for the corner and from the lineout drove over for their fourth try.
Chichester started to gain in confidence and take the attack to Brighton. Handling errors and infringements provided Blues with opportunities.
McLagan was looking dangerous with ball in hand and created the first Chichester chance of the second half. Having taken a looping ball out on the left wing he outstripped his opposite number and three defenders, making 25m before being brought down.
The ball was passed through five players including a sublime one-handed offload from Wallace but the final pass was knocked on.
A Chichester knock-on at the lineout presented Brighton with the ball and they ran in their fifth try for a 37-7 lead.
An opposition infringement provided the opportunity for a tap and go, catching Brighton out of position. A quick burst of speed from Thompson made space for a pass to Wallace and the overlapping Jenkinson to dot down. It was converted by Norton – 37-14.
Chichester returned to the Brighton 22 from the restart. Despite the home side conceding four penalties Chichester were unable to capitalise.
A clearance kick was knocked on giving Brighton a scrum ten metres from the try line. The ball came out quickly and a powerful run breached the Blues’ defence – 44-14.
With only a few minutes left the referee produced a yellow card for Brighton so both teams finished the game with 14 players.
The last five minutes were played in the Brighton half and Blues won a lineout on the Brighton 22m line. Chichester retained the ball for Wallace to pick up the floor and feed Sam Renwick.
He passed to Tyrese Makasi and received it back to outflank the Brighton defence, looping back to touchdown close to the posts. It was converted by Norton.
The Chi supporters’ man of the match was Ed Bowden.
Chichester: Magda, Cameron, Woods, Bowden, Spriggs, Polhill, Wallace, Johnson, Seaman, Norton, McLagan, Thompson, Renwick, Jenkinson, Golds, Bamber, Sharpe, Makasi.
On Saturday Chichester travel to Essex to take on Thurrock (3pm).