Leicester Lions vs Chester 35-14
Saturday November 4th 2017
This looked a tough away match for Chester, in a fixture that had gone with home advantage on the five previous occasions, and so it proved.
Leicester Lions, playing with a strong, gusty wind at their backs, came out of their blocks quickly. They were 14-0 in front after only thirteen minutes. First, their fly half James Morgan managed a clean break before slipping a neat overhead pass inside for scrum half Alex Smit to score. Then their speedy left wing Devon Constant caught his own chip ahead to break 40 metres upfield before being caught by the Chester defence. The ball was quickly recycled right for outside centre Alex Wilcockson to cross for the try.
Chester were creating opportunities but were unable to turn them into points. Both Guy Ford and Macca van Sertima managed strong breaks, but both attacks ended in breakdown penalties allowing Lions to clear their lines. Overall, Chester were to turn over attacking ball ten times one way or another. Furthermore, Liam McGovern missed two penalty shots at goal, the wind carrying one to the right and the other to the left of the posts. Then on the half hour Lions managed to set up camp in the Chester 22, and the visitors just could not manage to exit, despite some strong defence, including an excellent interception by Macca close to his line. A Lions 5 metre scrum led to a series of pick and goes from their forwards before the ball was moved infield to tight head prop Joe Newton-Taylor who crossed from short range for a third converted try.
A 21-0 deficit at half timelooked a sizeable but not impossible challenge for the visitors, even though the wind behind them had died away considerably. What was critical was to get off to a good start and to hold onto the possession in attack. Unfortunately this was not to be the case. Lions had been pretty effective at the breakdown in the first half and now managed to hold up a Chester maul just outside their own 22. From there a Chester lineout followed just inside the visitors’ 22 from which Lions stole the ball. Their right wing Nana Asiedu came into midfield and ran powerfully, shrugging off tacklers, leading to a Lions’ bonus point try. Jon Boden’s conversion put Lions’ 28-0 up after 45 minutes – a much more formidable deficit.
Nevertheless Chester continued to threaten in attack. Macca van Sertima managed another break, while scrumhalf Harry Craven was beginning to exploit weaknesses in the home defence close to the breakdown. Unfortunately, minor errors – a penalty kicked dead, another penalty conceded in Lions’ 22 – meant that the pressure went unrewarded. Conversely, just approaching the hour mark an attacking Lions’ lineout allowed Nana Asiedu to make another strong incursion into midfield and create a try for second row Alex Knight. Jon Boden’s conversion made the score an uncatchable 35-0.
It says much for the Chester side that they continued to build pressure and create opportunities. Following a stolen lineout Kyle Joseph was almost in at the corner. Then the Chester pack quickly drove a 5 metre lineout left, then right and back again. The ball was released to Harry Craven who found space and crossed for a well taken try, converted by Liam McGovern. Finally, almost on the final whistle Chester again drove a lineout just outside the home 22. Then a series of strong carries by the forwards took the ball to the tryline for Guy Ford to score. Liam McGovern’s conversion made the final score 35-14 – a fairer reflection of the performance.