Sheffield vs Chester 1st XV 14 - 24
October 14th 2017
This was a successful visit by the Chester side to struggling Sheffield, yielding an away win by a ten point margin. However, it was also a little frustrating because the game remained in doubt until the final minute and, with a little more accuracy, a bonus point was perhaps within the realms of possibility.
The match was played on a bright sunny afternoon and on an excellent surface, but it was dominated by a very strong and gusty wind, which Chester faced in the first half. The wind enabled the home side to dominate territory early on. Their scrumhalf, Steve Depledge both scored and converted an excellent try after 10 minutes. After a patient build up from a tap penalty, he broke through a depleted defence to score from a ruck close to the Chester line. From the restart the visitors managed to build pressure on the Sheffield line for the first time and Liam McGovern kicked a penalty on 15 minutes to make the score 7-3.
Chester were generally defending well, while Sheffield seemed to lack the accuracy and penetration to make their territorial advantage count on the scoreboard. Almost on the half hour mark a turnover in their own 22 allowed Chester to break out. Although the move ended with Kyle Joseph being forced into touch, Chester were awarded the subsequent lineout. Ross White won the ball and it was moved creatively left via a loop and then a switch into midfield. Ross and scrumhalf Tom Holloway broke from the resulting rucks before the ball was moved back right to wing Jack Leech who crossed untouched in the corner. Liam McGovern missed what was a very difficult conversion into a gale. However, he soon made amends after Chester ran back Sheffield’s restart kick. The home side coughed up a penalty in front of their posts which Liam kicked to make the score 7-11.
With a four point lead, and despite facing the wind, Chester had managed the first half well, notably through some excellent carries from the pack. They looked set to secure the win in the second. It proved not to be quite that easy. While Sheffield’s attack remained blunt their defence was hard working, desperate for a home win to move them away from the foot of the table. Chester managed to build some excellent attacking positions and had an increasingly dominant scrum, but now it was their turn to find it difficult to turn pressure into points. Early in the half an excellent build up from a turnover saw the ball passed into touch on the left. In the 50th minute Liam McGovern put Chester further ahead with a well struck penalty from 45 metres, only to see the lead wiped out by a well taken try by Sheffield’s Andy Hodgson. Andy found a mismatch in midfield and broke clear for an excellent individual converted try. Four times Chester came close to scoring in the right hand corner only to miss out due to a mixture of inaccuracy and strong defence. Fortunately Liam’s trusty boot nudged them narrowly in front with another penalty on 65 minutes, but the danger of a Sheffield breakaway try to steal the result remained until the last move of the match. The home side were turned over desperately trying to run the ball out of deep defence. This eventually led to a 5 metre Chester scrum and three strong carries before the ball was moved right to substitute James Robins who crossed in the right hand corner. Liam McGovern crowned a successful afternoon from the tee with another excellent conversion from touch.