Narrow defeat but no lack of positives for Gladiators
Chester Gladiators finished on the wrong end of a 20-24 scoreline but there were positives aplenty in the narrow defeat to Rochdale Cobras.
With a host of players unavailable and no less than seven debutants, there was an unfamiliar look to the Chester side but with the club aiming to rebuild this campaign, it was encouraging to see the trademark Gladiators grit and team spirit remained.
Torrential overnight rain turned the Capenhurst RUFC pitch into a bog in places meaning this game was never going to be one of free flowing rugby league, however credit to both teams for serving up an absorbing contest.
The lead changed hands several times over the course of the 80 minutes with four tries apiece as Ant Hallam starred with a hat-trick for the home side with Dylan Rowe adding a further score and two conversions.
Heading into the final stages the Gladiators seemed on course for the two points with a narrow lead and the Cobras having two men in the sin-bin to Chester's one following a flare up, but as the hosts pushed forward searching for a killer blow, the visitors broke from deep for the decisive score to send Rochdale headed back up the M62 with the win.
Ex-Cobras halfback Mark Kingsley was named Chester's man of the match against his former club with impressive contributions from Hallam, Rowe and hooker Martin Sutton on debut.
Chester Gladiators wish to thank Capenhurst RUFC for hosting the fixture and The Seahorse pub on Hope Farm Road for accommodating both teams following the game.
Next up for the Gladiators is a trip to St Helens to take on Eccleston Lions.