Having reached the half way point in the season, against Belsize Park, game 14 was the ‘A27 Derby’ against top of the table Havant.
The wet weather persisted in the run up to the game and after two inspections, and some last minute work, the 1st XV pitch was confirmed fit to play.
Blues made seven changes to the side that lost to Belsize Park last time out.
Joe Woods and Zac Conoly returned in the pack, Eddie Jenkinson and Tom Blewitt in the backs and brothers Will Norton and Charlie Norton joined John Lindsay on the bench.
Chichester welcomed back Sean Shepherd, Havant’s hooker, who played 31 times for the Blues between December 2015 and April 2017.
With 200 sitting down for the Mini and Juniors’ Christmas lunch, and a large Havant contingent travelling, the balcony and touch lines were packed with supporters looking forward to an entertaining game of rugby – and they were not to be disappointed.
Chichester started the match playing down the slope and into a gusting wind.
Straight away Havant were under the cosh with Chi’s ‘blue wall’ shutting down any attempt to run the ball out of defence.
Chichester’s pack also had the edge in the scrum and were pushing the opposition backwards at every opportunity.
It took Havant 20 minutes to cross the halfway line for the first time but they immediately found themselves back in their own half defending. An infringement provided Blues with a kick to touch and from the lineout their driving maul headed for the line, with Harry Seaman dotting down.
The referee was on the spot to see that it had been held up. From the subsequent five-metre scrum Havant stopped the driving maul illegally and the referee produced a yellow card. With superiority in numbers, it was not long before Chichester were on the Havant try line trying to find a gap.
The Havant defence was superb and after several pick and goes it was Harry Seaman who burst through to score one of his trade mark tries next to the post, which was converted by Blewitt to open a 7-0 lead eight minutes before half-time.
With only a couple of minutes left before the break, Shaun Baker’s long pass started a running move, involving Rhys Thompson, Chris Johnson, Matt McLagan and Blewitt, that looked to outflank the opposition defence.
With support arriving, the ball was driven over the line and Blewitt touched down for the second try out wide. He then used the wind to move the ball in flight and secure the extra points and a 14-0 lead at half-time.
The Chichester faithful couldn’t quite believe it and there was even talk of a possible bonus point win, as the Havant team regrouped on the pitch during the interval.
Havant started the second half looking a different team and it was Chichester’s turn to defend.
After 51 minutes an infringement from Blues provided Joel Knight the opportunity to get Havant on the scoreboard, with his trusty boot and he nailed a penalty.
This was repeated on 60 minutes to narrow the gap to 14-6 and Havant looked dangerous.
However, Blues dug deep and continued to look impressive in defence, soaking up pressure, as Havant probed for an opening.
The breakthrough finally came on 71 minutes when a well- worked lineout move allowed Shepherd to cross the line for a simple Havant try, which was confidently converted by Knight for 14-13.
The last nine minutes were played in the Havant half and will be talked about for years to come in the bar!
Chichester gained possession and the noise from both sets of supporters was deafening. With the clock counting down Blues’ game-management was superb as they retained the ball through 16 phases of play, before Seaman kicked it out to end the game.
Oaklands Park erupted and Chichester ended 2019 with another home win.
Chichester’s director of rugby, Paul Colley, said: “This was a fantastic Chichester team performance, from one through to 18.
“Whilst this may be a temporary setback to Havant’s promotion aspirations, there is nothing like a local derby and the game today was a great advert for Level 6 rugby.”
Chichester squad: Deavall, Makasi, Woods, Conoly, O’Callaghan, Polhill, Wallace (C), Johnson, Seaman, Baker, McLagan, Thompson, Jenkinson, Golds, Blewitt, Lindsay, W. Norton and C. Norton.
Chichester’s first match of 2020 is on Saturday, January 4 when they travel to KCS Old Boys (2pm KO).