Chichester blow away London Cornish as rugby returns to Oaklands

Chichester marked the return of league rugby with a handsome win in the Oaklands Park sunshine, beating London Cornish 50-15 to go top of the early London one south table.

Rhys Thompson goes over for the final try

The Blues fielded eight players from the team that lost away to Dartfordians before Covid prematurely ended the 2019-20 season. There was a debut at scrum half for Cieran Johnstone.

Chichester kicked off, playing up the slope and immediately had London Cornish under pressure.

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The visitors conceded a penalty but the kick went wide of the posts. The first quarter of the match ebbed and flowed as both teams had plenty of ball but struggled to dominate.

On 14 minutes Rhys Thompson’s change of direction and pace punched a hole through a flat defence, for a try under the posts. Converted by Tom Blewitt, 7-0.

With points on the board Blues upped the tempo and another infringement allowed Blewitt to increase the score, 10-0.

Cornish responded after what looked like a deliberate knock-on was run in under the posts and converted. 10-7.

The visitors’ infringements continued to increase and they were reduced to 14 players with a yellow card after 26 minutes. Within two minutes Chichester had scored again when Thompson’s pass to Ross Miller split the visitor’s defence for another try under the posts. Converted by Blewitt, 17-7.

Just before half-time a lineout five metres out was plucked out of the air by Zac Conley and the Blues’ pack drove across the line with Charlie Wallace dotting down.

At half-time it was 22-7 and the Chichester faithful confident that a bonus point win was on the cards.

A Blues’ infringement provided Cornish with a penalty in kicking range, 22-10.

With most of the possession Chichester continued to pile on the pressure with attack after attack.

Thompson, who seemed to be involved in everything, was stopped five metres out and offloaded to Blewitt who crossed the line for the bonus point try and converted it, 29-10.

With 52 minutes on the clock it was the turn of the forwards to get on the score sheet with a series of pick and goes that culminated in Harry Norton diving over the line for a try. Converted by Blewitt, 36-10.

A resurgence by the visitors saw Chichester turn to defensive duties but they couldn’t stop Cornish crossing the whitewash to add five more points, 36-15.

With the clock winding down the visitors were reduced to 14 players by injuries but, despite giving their all, couldn’t prevent Chichester scoring again.

With Harry Seaman now playing scrum half he produced one of his classic sniping moves, off the back of the breakdown, to dot down on the line. Converted by Blewitt, 43-15.

In the final play of the game Miller scored his second try of the afternoon which Blewitt converted.

The pitch invited the open running game favoured by Blues and they delivered in style.

The forwards were dominant and carried efficiently, setting up the backs to regularly break the Cornish defence.

There was a blend of experience and youth which gives Blues’ supporters optimism for the long season ahead.

Chichester: Deavall, Brown, Woods, Grinstead, Conley, Makasi, Wallace (capt.), Norton, Johnston, Thompson, Margarson, Miller, Jenkinson, McLagan, Blewitt, Seaman, Drayson and Minton.

Chichester’s next match is on Saturday when they travel to Horsham (3pm).