Chester 1st XV vs Sheffield 1st XV 24-5
Saturday February 3rd 2018
Chester 24 v Sheffield 5
3rd February 2018
This bonus point win for Chester against struggling a Sheffield side was inevitably hard work given the tough paying conditions – a heavy pitch, a greasy ball and a cold, swirling wind that looked to judge. It was especially creditworthy given the home side’s lengthening injury list and the fine performances of less experienced players coming into first team. The win leaves Chester comfortably in 8th place in the league, but Sheffield are firmly locked in a relegation dogfight with Blaydon and Luctonians.
Sheffield’s lineout was under early pressure and a penalty allowed Chester fly half Josh Morris, coming in for the injured James Robins, to set up an attacking lineout in the visitors’ 22. The home pack drove and then released quick ball to the backs. It was moved wide to Tom Foden on the right. Sean Green cut in from the wing on a dummy run, which convinced the Sheffield defenders, as Tom’s ‘show and go’ fixed his man and allowed him to cross untouched for an excellent try after 6 minutes. Josh’s conversion was unluckily carried wide by the gusting wind.
Sheffield’s lineout remained unsettled and it was also becoming clear that their scrum would come under growing pressure as the afternoon progressed. About the 20 minute mark Sheffield conceded another crucial penalty, this time only 5 metres out for a high tackle. Chester took a scrum and the visitors’ scrum basically collapsed allowing scrum half Harry Craven to cross for a converted try under the posts.
Ten minutes later it was Chester’s turn to concede two costly penalties – for offside and then for going killing a breakdown. Sheffield first managed to win the resulting successive lineouts in the home 22, and then their forwards set up an excellent drive for an unconverted try. To be honest, Chester defensive penalties looked by far Sheffield’s best method of conjuring up a score the whole afternoon. Their forwards carried willingly, but could not win quick ball or cross the gain line with sufficient regularity against a determined home defence. As for their backs, often playing off slow ball and in heavy conditions, they never showed the creativity to create a score. As a result their attacks tended to peter out in turnovers or knock ons.
Five minutes into the second half another scrum penalty allowed Chester to set up a five metre lineout. The pack then moved the ball infield through three breakdowns before the ever-alert Harry Craven spotted a defensive gap to break, ride a high tackle and score a try under the posts, that was converted by Josh Morris.
With 35 minutes left on the clock the key question now was, could Chester work another score for the bonus point? Between them Sheffield and the elements made this hard work. The conditions, mud under foot and a swirling wind, made exiting from their 22 difficult for the home side. Kicking was sometimes precarious, although both half backs found a couple of excellent relieving touches, while carrying the ball risked knock ons, penalties for holding on, or interceptions. To be fair Sheffield tried tirelessly to build a score, but even when Chester conceded penalties, and so conceded field position, they were unable to take advantage. Eventually, as the final whistle beckoned, and the crowd looked forward to the warmth of the bar, a Chester turnover was moved wide to the right and Josh Morris made a break, cutting back, into the Sheffield 22. The home forwards then recycled the ball twice before Sam Farrar crossed for an unconverted 4th try.
1.Alex Reed 2. Alick Croft 3. Rhodri Rees 4. Ross White 5. Jonny Charmley 6. Andy Baston 7. George Baxter 8. Guy Ford 9. Harry Craven 10. Josh Morris 11. Sean Green 12. Freeman Payne 13. James Preston 14. Macca Van Sertima 15. Tom Foden 16. Colin Campbell 17. Shay Owen 18. Josh Woods 19. Sam Farrar 20. Pete Rees
Tries: Harry Craven (2), Tom Foden, Sam Farrar
Cons: Josh Morris (2)
HT: 12 - 5