Peterborough Lions 17 v Chester 10
Try scorer George Baxter pictured.
This was a disappointing match, not only because of the result but also because of the quality of rugby played. Neither side was really able to overcome the elements – driving wind and rain almost throughout – or put together much in the way of really coherent rugby. The elements suggested that errors would be critical and so it proved. The refereeing was clear and consistent but a little more empathy for the players’ predicament in the conditions might have reduced the penalty count and allowed the game to flow just a little more.
Chester played into the elements and defended very well in the first half. They conceded only a penalty, but managed to score tries on both their sustained visits to the Lions 22. After 13 minutes the pack drove a lineout from 10 metres out, first infield and then back towards touch for a well worked score. Then close to half time another lineout close to the home line saw Andy Baston break around the back. When he was tackled just short, wing forward George Baxter was in support to cross for the try. Josh Morris was unable to convert either try into the teeth of the gale, but Chester looked comfortably set up to kick on in the second half. Appearances were, however, deceiving.
The Lions for their part established some clear dominance in the scrums, which yielded them a string of penalties throughout, but despite trying to attack through their heavy pack and wider out when the opportunity arose, they really failed to make an effective impression on the visitors’ try line during the first period. They were able to build phases, but Chester’s line speed inevitably forced errors with the slippery ball.
Despite having the elements with them in the second half, Chester really never managed to get out of second gear. Lions’ fly half Ben Young played a very astute game into the strong wind, using high kicks to find space and causing all sorts of problems for Chester’s back three. He was also becoming more influential with ball in hand, looping into midfield and finding more space than earlier on.
Contrary to expectations the visitors were forced to play much of the game in their own half, especially as their lineout began to malfunction. They did manage some strong attacks notably with both Colin Campbell and Andy Baston making powerful 30 metre breaks deep into home territory. But none of these yielded points on the board.
Lions were clearly desperate for the win and in the final quarter their pack were camped on the Chester line. Eventually their scrum superiority told as their pack drove a scrum over the try line. Ben Young converted to even the scores. The energy was now with Lions, and despite picking up a second yellow card, they were able both to keep Chester out and force them back into their own half. Eventually the pressure told once again. Fittingly it was fly half Ben Young who charged down a Chester clearing kick, regathered the ball,
and scored the winning try, which he then converted.
The newly promoted Lions players, and their supporters, justifiably were overjoyed by their first win of the season.
Given their desire and work rate, they deserved