Combe lose last game of season in last minute
By John Vallely
Chichester RFC 18-16 Westcombe Park RFC
The homeside were in the lead for around a minute but, as it was the final minute, Combe were condemned to a disappointing defeat in the last game of the season. In what was a scrappy, niggly game Westcombe Park were left to rue some missed opportunities in the first period as Chi's kicking game kept the visitors at arms length for long periods.
Combe got on the scoreboard as early as the first minute when Ben Fryatt kicked a penalty after Chichester had infringed a couple of times following good pressure from the Goddington Dene side. Combe were the dominant side for long stretches with Brad Smith having a couple of strong runs, the latter of which saw him bundled into touch at the corner. Combe missed a penalty when Chichester were penalised for a high tackle. Then a 5 metre attacking scrum, awarded after a kick through from scrum half Fryatt was chased down by Smith forcing a Chi in goal touch down, went against the head and the opportunity was gone.
On the 30 minute mark Combe extended their lead to 8-3. A quick tap penalty was taken and fed to powerful centre Sean Beckett who used that power to crash through. The Simmons twins were doing a lot of short range carrying, there was a Thibault Calohard steal in the maul and a loping run from George Milligan but no addition to the scoreboard for Westcombe Park. On the contrary it was Chichester who got their first points when Combe were caught offside making the scoreline very tight at 3-8 at halftime.
Combe were on the front foot in the first ten minutes of the second half. Chi were penalised a couple of times and Combe drove the first line-out through flanker Ryan Hackett which was illegally stopped. The second line-out drive brought reward with James Lindfield dotting down for an unconverted try after a consummate drive from the rest of the pack.
The match dinged back and forwards with neither side getting the upper hand. Things changed with 12 minutes to go. Combe went down to 14 men when the referee took exception to a kick through a fracturing Chi ruck. From the ensuing penalty, Chi kicked to the corner and rumbled over for the score to make it 8-13. A couple of minutes later the scores were level when the home side broke from half way and slick passing resulted in the try.
Combe inched ahead on the 74 minute mark when Chichester gave away a soft penalty for a lazy returning runner interfering with a Combe attack. Fryatt struck the penalty to make the score 13-16.
But, as the clock ticked down, Chi mounted one last attack down the left. There was a suspicion of a wee knock on in the move but the referee judged that the ball went backward. Chichester were in for 5 points in the corner and the missed conversion was the last play of the match but Chi didn't care as they had won 18-16.
A deflating end to the match and season for Westcombe Park. In a way it epitomised most of Combe's season with performances of promise coming to naught in the end despite honest endeavour and effort from Combe's players and coaching staff.
See you all in September for the 2019/20 season. Come on you Combe boys.
Westcombe Park RFC: Simmonds T Dehaarte, Simmonds J, Delderfied, Calohard, Milligan, Lindfield Pohlen, Fryatt, Harrison, Saffrey, Atiola, Beckett, Smith, Church-Mills
Replacements: Conlon, Hackett, Hamilton
Match Report: John Vallely