Camberley too strong for depleted Blues - Fortress Oaklands is breached

High-flying Camberley, with their large travelling support, were too strong for the Blues at Oaklands Park - winning the London one south encounter 55-7.

Blues made eight changes to the side that lost to Cobham. Josh Brown, Alex Taylor and Tom Wheeler came into the pack. Quinn Macdonald, making his 1st XV debut, Freddie Slater, Cam Hopkins and Ben Heber were in the backs with Martin O’Callaghan, who answered a plea 90 minutes before kick-off, on the bench.

With the 52-0 defeat by Camberley in September, fresh in the mind there was concern among the Chi faithful that with a depleted pack and backs Blues might struggle again to compete against mobile and physical visitors.

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Chi kicked off up the slope towards Oaklands Pavilion and had Camberley under pressure moving the ball towards the 22m line with pick and goes before the backs were released.

Ben Robson scores / Picture: Michael Clayden

Play ebbed and flowed with Chi containing the Camberley threat and causing the visitors to concede penalties, but Blues were unable to capitalise. Camberley’s first substantive attack was stopped illegally and from the lineout on the 5m line they mauled to the line and their skipper dived over. Converted, 0-7.

Chichester infringed on the half way line. Camberley took a quick tap penalty and the pass was fumbled allowing Ben Robson to intercept the ball and sprint up the pitch for a solo try under the posts, converted by Gareth Davies, 7-7.

The visitors restored their lead on 25 minutes then some last ditch defending Blues were shown a “team” yellow and reduced to 14. Camberley ran in three more tries, one converted, before half-time.

It was 7-31 with two of the Chichester pack out of the game with shoulder injuries.

Charlie Wallace on the charge for Chichester against Camberley / Picture: Michael Clayden

The second half started with Chi on the attack and Camberley conceding penalties. But the reorganised pack were struggling to compete at the scrum or in the maul and on 49 minutes the visitors crossed the whitewash for the first of four second half tries, two of which they converted.

For the last 20 minutes the Chichester players dug deep, fighting for the ball, to ensure Camberley didn’t score again.

With ball in hand Blues took the attack to the visitors on a number of occasions but were unable to breach their well organised defence, camped on the 22m line and it finished 7-55.

After the match the consensus was that the team, weakened by injury (Blues started the match missing props with 29 combined appearances this season), had put in good performance against an opposition who will be playing in a higher league next season.

James Smith and MoM Freddie Slater had been expecting to play for the Colts the next day against Winchester and did well and Martin O’Callaghan came on as replacement for his 101st appearance, having retired in 2020! Chichester remain fifth.

On Saturday Blues travel up the A3 to face KCS Old Boys (2pm).