50 Buxton v Chesterfield 22
Beautiful Buxton comes with bumps and bruises!
A great day for the final game of the season at the beautiful Buxton location.
With perfect conditions and an infallible team sheet, the Panthers were confident that success was on the table.
The rag tag Buxton team were a combination of old heads and experience. This was demonstrated in the first scrum, putting the Panthers on the back foot! After a couple of reassessments, by the 3rd scrum the visitors found the forward momentum.
Buxton set the tone for this "Friendly" with an abundance of high tackles and unnecessary dirty play. The Panthers took the initial blows in their stride and with some clever play Chris Cooper set up Joe Heath to find the try line.
The home side responded with great force and soon found the Panthers tryline to open up to 7-5.
The Panthers were not fazed by this expected response and retaliated appropriately, Joe Heath absolutely dominating the simple 4 man line outs, winning all of ours and stealing some of the home side's throw ins with relative ease.
It wasn't long until the Panthers got back in the lead with Chris Cooper getting under the sticks.
With heavy physicality it wasn't long before the visitors took some blows, Declan Wileman splitting his eyebrow and having to leave the field with a blood injury. Paul Giller, busting his lip, nose and ear, it was obvious that the hosts wanted "old skool" rugby. The final straw, being a filthy clothesline tackle to scrum half Alex Tustin's throat, this ignited the flames and Alex felt he had to respond and piled into the experienced Buxton second row, followed by players from both sides. The referee had to intervene and felt it necessary to sin bin both the Buxton lock and the Chesterfield scrum half for his retaliation. As Buxton tried to create gaps in the Chesterfield defence Paul Giller and Chris Cooper exchanged blows to the head, and Giller had to be removed from the field.
The second half began, and Terry Titley's keen eye spotted that there were 15 homeside to Chesterfield's 14, after a discussion with the referee and the hosts it may be apparent that the homeside had "accidentally" fielded 16 players in the first half? There were 3 minutes left on the players' yellow cards.
Buxton widening the margin with a flurry of tries down the left hand side.
Chesterfield desperately needed another try to stay relevant. Simple effective rugby was the answer, possession and pressure gave forward momentum and Anthony Barnett broke through to score near the sticks and converting too.
Chesterfield's positivity has returned and the game started to look winnable. Ben Bunting running some great lines in attack and Scott Widdowson putting in some textbook tackles!
However it wasn't enough, Buxton delivered a lethal blow with another converted try, which was quickly followed by another, and took the wind out of the visitors sails!
With just a few minutes left on the clock, the Panthers really wanted one for pride. Again, getting the basics right then shipping it out to our fast backs gave Ben Bunting the opportunity to charge forward, before taking yet another high tackle to the throat, but his momentum helped him find the tryline nonetheless.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, the Buxton restart miraculously found the hands of Chris Cooper before being passed to a surprised Josh Hardy, the fumble being scooped up by Buxton to end the game 50-22.
Chesterfield had all the right ingredients for success today, but Buxton bought a level of physicality and ill discipline that the Panthers hadn't experienced for quite some time, put that together with a squad who weren't familiar enough with one another, add a few handling errors and you get a recipe for disaster!
Ryan Hanes - Started at prop but dropped to second row following some injuries.
Terry Titley - Today's Man Of The Match, consistent and difficult to stop whilst moving forward.
Greg Fritchley - Great fitness throughout and matched some of the old school tactics well.
Lewis Chapman - Good drive in the scrums, developing well in open play.
Declan Wileman - Split open his eyebrow early on but came back on in the second half to refresh the scrums.
Joe Heath - Absolute superstar, did everything right, couldn't have asked for more.
Grant Teagle - Relished in the opportunity to get stuck into some of his former team mates.
Paul Giller - Matched the Buxton physicality and gave as good as he got, had to leave due to a head injury.
Alex Tustin - Solid performance at scrum half, sin binned for retaliation.
Chris Cooper - Moved forward well, snake hips as still got it!
Tom Yates - Great first half, his fitness has certainly improved since joining the RAF
Scott Widdowson - Delivered a masterclass in tackling, wish we could all hit like that!
Ben Bunting - Great physicality and pace, loved getting stuck in.
Nathan Newton - Had a great first half, was unlucky to give away a high tackle.
Anthony Barnett - Good game at full back but under-utilised, did a few cheeky chip and chases as usual.
Julian Ord - First game back at the Panthers, hopefully first of many! Helped step it up a gear, another physical player with a lot of power.
Josh Hardy - Delivered another sturdy performance, never pulls any punches.
Luke Race - Unfortunately couldn't match the opposite numbers pace on the left wing, had a couple of good carries.
Ben Tustin - Didn't get long enough on the field, but when he did he didn't disappoint.