Otley 31 v Chester 16
16th September, 2017
Chester began this match very well, suggesting that they might be on their way to a rare away win at Otley, but that hope was quickly extinguished. By the 50th minute it was pretty clear that the home side would be worthy winners, and the visitors would be frustrated, as much by an error prone performance as by the scoreboard.
Chester dominated the early exchanges and patiently built the phases, until they were inside the home 22. Then Liam McGovern at fly half broke left against the run of play and was hauled down just short of the Otley line. The forwards produced quick ruck ball for winger Matt Crow to score an unconverted try in the left hand corner. Chester then recovered the restart , and were eventually awarded a scrum penalty under the Otley posts, which Liam McGovern converted to make the score a promising 0-8 after 13 minutes.
This, however, proved to be the end of the good news for Chester as Otley then took a firm grip on the game. The visitors reacted slowly as Otley ran back a Chester clearance. Quick ball allowed the home No 8 to break in the visitors’ 22, where a neat back handed offload enabled his outside centre to cross for a converted try after 16 minutes. Five minutes later the home side were awarded a penalty close the Chester line. Their scrum half Max Johnson converted to put them 10-8 in front. By now Otley were dominant, not least because of Chester errors – dropped passes, lost lineouts and missed tackles. Otley’s backs were now regularly finding space out wide, while Chester’s defence was allowing them the room to play. Contrastingly, Chester attacks often petered out into touch. A key swing in fortunes occurred on 35 minutes when Guy Ford battered his way deep into the home 22, but Otley managed to turn the ball over almost on their try line. They moved the ball quickly left and ran the length of the field for a converted try to make the score 17-8. Liam McGovern then clawed back 3 points with a penalty, but on the point of half time Otley again ran back a Chester kick to score fine converted try to make it 24-11.
Otley continued to pin Chester back at the start of the second period and on 50 minutes their pack drove a 5 metre lineout five and crossed for a converted try which, at 31-11, effectively put the match beyond Chester’s reach. At this point it seemed that the home side could pull further away and secure a really big win, but it was not to be. Despite being under some pressure at scrum time and losing three attacking lineouts in the home 22, the Chester pack began to secure more ball and so build more field position. The visitors began to construct more attacks, but were hampered by a tendency to play catch up and take risks with the ball that did not pay off. However, almost on the final whistle their efforts at last paid off. They ran back a loose Otley clearance and carried the ball successfully through 13 phases, despite the odd loose pass, until Guy Ford barged over for an unconverted try - to make the final score 31-16.