Rugby: Chichester denied by Wimborne fightback – Eastbourne so close to win at Kingston
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Chichester 23 Wimborne 23
Regional 2 South Central
by Simon Tanner
The first league game between the clubs’ first XVs ended all square – but should not have done.
Blues made six changes to the team that beat Reading as Tom Whitehouse and 1st XV debutant Ethan Carpenter came into the pack, with Matt McLagan and Fin West in the backs and Josh Cameron and Josef Amin on the bench.
Despite torrential rain in the week the pitch had drained well and was surprisingly firm underfoot. With squalls blowing in off the Solent, Wimborne kicked off up the slope.
Chichester were immediately on the attack arriving at the visitors’ try line after some slick handling by the backs. An infringement provided Blues with a lineout on the 5m line which was safely gathered.
Initially the Wimborne defence held steady but Richard Ives joined the pack and the maul inched forward with the hooker receiving the ball to dot down just three minutes in, converted by Alex Margarson.
Chichester continued to press, causing problems as they probed.
Having disputed a decision too vociferously the referee penalised Wimborne for backchat and Margarson slotted from 30 yards for a 10-0 lead.
Blues were caught by the advancing Wimborne players and conceded a penalty for not releasing, converted, 10-3.
Chichester found themselves with the ball on their own try line and the backs ran the ball out of danger, again demonstrating great handling in wet conditions.
Having been halted 30m from the opposition try line, a penalty for offside at the breakdown provided Margarson with his third kick of the afternoon, converted - 13-3.
Blues continued to play some of the best rugby seen at Oaklands Park this season, stretching Wimborne’s scrambling defence, and when the visitors did gain possession, they struggled to hold on to the ball.
A high tackle provided MoM Margarson with another penalty kick and the Blues led 16-3 at the break.
Within five minutes Joe Shopland had crossed the line but the referee ruled the ball had been held up. Soon a couple of quality offloads saw the ball delivered to Margarson, who slid across to score out wide then slotted the extras, 23-3.
From the restart, Chichester conceded three penalties and couldn’t stop the opposition replacement ghosting through to score, 23-8.
Blues tired and Wimborne’s confidence grew. On 66 minutes they crossed the whitewash to make it 23-13.
Chichester still seemed home and hosed but Wimborne scored their third try in the 78th minute – 23-18. Poor game management saw Blues give Wimborne back the ball and, with the final play, the visitors crossed for a bonus point try. At least the conversion was missed but the points were shared.
On Saturday, Chichester travel up the A3 to Farnham. Kick off is at 2:30.
Kingston 27 Eastbourne 27
Counties 1 Surrey/Sussex
Eastbourne traveled to Kingston on Saturday hoping to get there first win on the road – but were foiled by the narrowest of margins.
Given the fast start they made, victory looked very likely, with Dylan Viles crossing twice.
Once was from a superb cross-field kick from Hossack back in the No10 jersey, the other from a pre-planned move off a scrum, with Jake Howe kicking the conversion to make it 12-0 inside 10 minutes.
The away side kept up the dominance but could not get over the line again, before Kingston responded twice to come with in two points.
Viles then crossed again for a superb first-half hat-trick, meaning it was 10-17 to Eastbourne at half-time.
Kingston again responded to bring the game back within two points.
Eastbourne lost their captain and goal kicker early in the second half which was a setback, but they had the ever-impressive Ronnie Dorry Palmer to come on and he tackled very well for the remainder of the game.
The next break in play came when Ben Perrott broke through the Kingston defensive and put a superb kick chase in, which was gathered by Ian Padget who sprinted under the posts.
Hossack kicked the conversion.
Unfortunately Perrott landed awkwardly and looks to have sustained a bad knee injury, which is a real shame for him and the team as he has been a real leader in the side this season.
It also left Eastbourne having to reshuffle the back line as both centres were now off the field.
Hossack then followed his conversion up with a drop goal to extend the lead to 12 points before Kingston scored twice to level the game at 27-27.
That was how it stayed following a penalty miss by Hossack from a long way out.
So three points on the road against a very positive side was a fair result, but Eastbourne will certainly feel like they should have got the win, given they were leading by 12 points twice during the game.
They are on the road again on Saturday, when they go to Old Walcountians in the hope of getting some more points and possibly a win on the board.
Eastbourne sit ninth in the table, while Saturday’s hosts are sixth.