They had enough possession and terrritory but gifted TJs a try, gave them nine points in penalties and knocked on six times in the second half to ruin promising attacks.
The strong and in-form men from Kent clinched their third consecutive win with a control which Blues lacked. Chi must make up their minds to do the basics perfectly and stop doing extravagant things badly, or they will continue to slide down the table.
The winning margin was two converted tries and three penalties to two tries and a penalty.
Chi were without five regular players. Phil Veltom came in at tight head, Jack Taggart at lock, Danny Gray at fly half, Kieran Mudd at inside centre and Richard Adams full-back. Alex Marsh moved to the right wing.
A gusting wind soon relented and for more than ten minutes the Blues put great pressure on TJs defence, including a 25m drive maul with Ben Polhill at the back. Then it was man for man tackles by the visitors which held them up five metres out.
The ball was sent across the backs with several recycles on both sides of the pitch but TJs stood firm and Chi were frustrated.
Danny Gray tried an ambitious long-range penalty which just missed and then from a Chris Johnson catch in the lineout, Gray hoisted a kick to the wing which Marsh collected and made for the right corner.
Flanker Andy Gray was at his shoulder to take his pass and score the first try. The conversion was missed from the touchline.
TJs finally moved into the Chi half and from a lineout and handling by their backs, Chi were offside. Scrum-half Zanirato slotted the penalty kick, the first of his successful efforts from the tee.
Chi knocked on and their scrum was penalised. Zanirato’s kick hit the post and rebounded laterally, causing Chi to be nailed in possession. five-metre scrums followed with the put-in changing hands twice and Chi’s loosehead Ken Dowding appealing that his opposite number was boring in each time. The referee did not see it and No 8Johnson simultaneously received a nasty blow to the head and was yellow-carded for ruck infringement.
The TJs fly half made the half-break needed to send huge lock Metcalfe over the line with conversion making it 10-5 to Tonbridge.
The Blues resumed their attacks with long passing and Aaron Lowe tried a step inside his marker but was stopped. TJs offended and Danny Gray landed the penalty.
TJs counter attacked and Lowe had to make a try-saving tackle on their right winger. An excellent move by Chi nearly brought a try and a penalty was won. It was a fairly easy kick and would have put them ahead at the break but they unwisely opted for the corner lineout and drive which was held up in the last play.
At the break, Johnson had to be replaced by Rhys Gillings because of his injury.
Chi were in trouble after being tackled trying to run out of their 22. The ball was cleared to touch but from the lineout TJs launched a speculative kick over the heads to the posts. Two defenders seemed about to touch down when the TJs fly-half Kannemeyer beat them to it to grab their second try.
Many Chi supporters thought he had been ahead of the kicker but it made no difference. The conversion by Zanirato took it to 17-8.
Chi went to the other end quickly and with a driving lineout the pack put Dowding over in the left corner. The conversion was missed from the touchline.
Andy Gray was having an outstanding game and Chi should have made more combined moves between forwards and backs down the central channel at the expense of fast ball to the wings which kept failing due to the knock ons.Tom Jackson and Marsh got close and Lowe made a searing outside break but didn’t back himself to beat the full-back in the last 15 metres.
Adams was tackled into touch and a three-on-two chance was lost. The pack and backs did finally unite but an overlap was not seen on the left wing and the cut inside was blocked.
TJs had another go, two tackles were missed in midfield and a penalty awarded. Zinarato calmly stroked it over the bar from 30 metres.They missed a drop goal attempt but Chi suffered another setback when in the last seconds they thought they had won a scrum against the head but the referee gave a penalty to TJs.
It was kicked and Chi had lost a losing bonus point. The 23-13 scoreline left Chi bitterly disappointed.
This week comes a big challenge at Westcombe Park. Kick-off is at 2pm and all support would be very welcome –there’s room on the team coach.
CHICHESTER: Dowding, Shopland, Veltom, Neil, Taggart, Polhill, A Gray, Johnson, Durkin, D Gray, Jackson, Mudd, Lowe, Marsh, Adams. Reps: Belcher, Gillings, Driscoll.