Chichester beaten as title pressure builds

GOSPORT AND FAREHAM RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB (GFRFC) started the New Year with yet another comfortable win in the Hampshire Premier League, beating strugglers Chichester IIs 45-7 at Oaklands Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. In difficult and challenging weather away from Dolphin Park, GFRFC didn’t get off to the best start but managed to recover to seal a bonus try victory, something that keeps the pressure on league table-toppers Havant IIs after twelve games in the 2021-22 campaign.

Chichester made a dream start and scored a fantastic team try after just three minutes, the ball was worked from left to right allowing space for the winger to pile over on the overlap. A conversion was quickly added from the kicker, who also missed a penalty opportunity and saw another attack break down following a forward pass after eleven minutes. In response the visitors began to gain control of possession and a series of long kicks, but were unable to convert this into any points.

This all changed on 23 minutes when following a scrum the ball was played into the hands of Tim Snowden who brushed off his defender and dived over to level the scores, with the help of an Alex Duncombe conversion. One try soon became two as Keiran McRoberts collected a bouncing ball and dived into the corner to make 12-7 to GFRFC, although the conversion was missed after 31 minutes. It was 19-7 to the visitors before the half-time break as the kicker redeemed himself, both touching down a flowing move forward and also adding two further points in the final action of the first half.

A bonus point for GFRFC was gained when they sealed a fourth try in the 49th minute, Snowden on the right finding space to beat two tackles and dive over the line. Two further points were added by Duncombe with the conversion, before a spell of resistance from Chichester stopped the visitors making any further additions as the game ticked towards the hour. Substitutions for both teams also added to the interruptions, although GFRFC were looking good as the Chichester legs tired under pressure.

The visitor’s fifth try came on 68 minutes as Samuel Gee combined with Duncombe as he tapped over the line and the kicker added the conversion, whilst Chichester were reduced to 14 men as a player was sinbinned. This allowed GFRFC extra space and they added two late tries in the last ten minutes; Ash Wakefield adding them both with relative ease following good passing against weary bodies. A final touch of gloss was added by the kicker who converted the final try, ending a good afternoon in windy gusts and a muddle surface.

Despite the victory GFRFC remain second in the table as Havant IIs recorded a huge 79-0 victory against Millbrook at the same time, meaning the gap between the two sides remains two points at the top. GFRFC will now play Eastleigh II at home next Saturday with a kick-off time of 2pm, whilst an away trip to Millbrook the following week. Another home game versus Bognor will end the month of January as the build-up continues to their potentially title-deciding clash against Havant II in February.

PICTURED BY CHICHESTER RFC: Gosport and Fareham Rugby Football Club impress again despite a shaky start at Oaklands Pavilion