Chester 1st XV vs Sheffield Tigers 1st XV 59-7
Saturday March 24th
This was every bit as dominant a Chester performance as the score line suggests. The large home support was sent away happy, despite ‘only’ seeing the penultimate first team home game on grass. (The last one will now be the rearranged Leicester Lions’ fixture on Easter Saturday). Tigers were lackluster, fell behind early and never really looked like making a game of it, despite starting the match only one place below Chester in the league table. Tigers’ pack were dominated in the scrum, won only intermittent lineout ball, and struggled to produce quick ball at the breakdown. As a consequence their backs were rarely able to move the ball with any fluency, scoring their only try just before full time when the result was done and dusted.
The home side went in front after only 2 minutes, when quick ruck ball was moved quickly right to Tom Foden, and then back inside to Jonny Charmley, who found himself in space, crossing untouched for a converted try. On 10 minutes wing Macca van Sertima turned over a Tigers’ ball on their 22. The ball was moved quickly right, then left, and then back right again - to find prop Rhodri Rhys, who scored another converted try. After 17 minutes the home pack was entirely dominant at a 5 metre scrum. Tigers’ loose head collapsed onto his knees, but the referee, Mr. Woods, intelligently encouraged Chester to play on, allowing captain Guy Ford to cross for a converted try. A couple of minutes later Chester were initially held up when driving a 5 metre lineout, but the ball was then moved right where Mike Craven crossed for an unconverted bonus point try.
Chester were effectively almost out of sight after 22 minutes. Now at last, the unfortunate Tigers began to get a toehold in the game, started to compete, and managed to apply some territorial pressure. In contrast Chester went off the boil and were unable to exit effectively for the remainder of the half. Hence the game became a stalemate. Tigers were unable to capitalise on their territorial advantage, notably because of two crooked throws into 5 metre attacking lineouts, but the home side could not regain the initiative. The impasse lasted about 35 minutes, during which the Chester pack surprisingly even managed to lose an attacking 5 metre scrum despite their overwhelming dominanace.
The stalemate was finally broken when Chester won a 5 metre lineout at the back and second row sub Ross White crossed for a try converted by James Robins. This score sealed the win and the home side’s superior fitness really began to pay dividends as Tigers tired in the final quarter. Guy Ford drove over from another attacking lineout 8 minutes later and James Robins’ conversion took the score to 40-0. Guy completed his hat trick just after 70 minutes, picking up from the base of another 5 metre scrum and driving over.
To their great credit Tigers had never given up and kept trying to play when the opportunity arose. With 5 minutes left some useful approach work by full back Jamie Broadley, their most dangerous runner throughout, allowed their pack at last to recycle quickly close to the Chester try line and score a well deserved try. However, this had the unintended effect of re-energising the Chester players. Almost from the kick off Ross White broke into Tigers’ 22 and a quick recycle to the right presented full back Sean Green with a mismatch against a defending prop. A side step off his left foot and a firm hand off enabled him to cross close to the posts for a converted try. To compound Tigers’ woes they won an overthrown Chester lineout in the final minute only for the ball to squirt out of the ensuing ruck. Craig Ross on as a right wing sub put boot to ball on half way, recovered his kick and crossed for yet another converted try making the final score 59-7.
Match Report - Des Hickie
Photos - Paul Best