Chichester secured their first away win of the season but only just, with a 18-15 victory at KCS Old Boys.
There was optimism among the Chichester faithful who made the trip up the A3 to Motspur Park, for the first match of 2020 following the victory against Havant in the final game of 2019.
Blues made five changes to the side that beat Havant. Joe Knight came into the pack, Gareth Thomas and Liam Rowland returned in the backs while Sam Drayson and Ryan Spriggs were on the bench.
The pitch was in fantastic condition after the wet weather of recent weeks.
Blues came out of the traps and took the lead inside four minutes.
Gareth Davies executed a perfect chip and collect over the KCS defence, passed to Harry Seaman for the offload to Tom Blewitt. The speedy fullback outpaced the opposition centres to dot down under the posts and then added the conversion.
As the half progressed Blues looked in total control, perhaps flattered slightly by KCS who were struggling with their ball handling and retention.
Chichester’s forwards dominated the scrums and controlled the ball at the breakdown, allowing the backs to probe the opposition defence at every opportunity.
However, it was KCS who scored next with a penalty kick after a Blues’ infringement 30 metres out (3-7) and 22 minutes on the clock.
Despite containing the opposition in their own half for extended periods Chichester could not find their way through the KCS defence, for a second try, but did increase the score just before the interval with a penalty from Blewitt to lead 10-3 at half-time.
KCS came out for the second half a different team and it was immediately obvious that Chichester had a fight on their hands.
With KCS on the offensive it was Blues’ turn to put in a defensive shift, soaking up the pressure to contain the opposition’s centre partnership.
A break from Eddie Jenkinson on halfway with support from Toby Golds moved the ball to the five-metre line. From the breakdown Rhys Thompson dived forward to touch down on the whitewash but the referee indicated the ball had been held up.
From the resulting scrum the Blues’ pack drove for the line and Seaman was on hand to touch down but the conversion was missed.
It left Chi 15-3 ahead with 48 minutes played but 20 minutes later KCS had run in two tries and kicked a conversion to level the score at 15-15 to set up a nail-biting final 12 minutes.
The referee sent a player from each side to the sin bin in the closing period. Both teams dug deep and put in excellent defensive performances but a KCS infringement five minutes from time provided Blewit with a kicking opportunity in front of the posts which he nailed.
As in the Havant game, Chi retained possession to run the clock down. Chi are seventh in National One South on 40 points.
Hooker Tyrese Makasi was man-of-the-match after getting the nod ahead of Martin O’Callaghan, Joe Woods, Ben Deavall and Blewitt.
Tomorrow, Chichester host what they are dubbing Super Saturday at Oaklands Park.
The 1st XV host London Cornish (2pm KO) while the second and third sides are also at home.