Chester nil League leaders
Glorious retun to form
All the pre match talk for this fixture at Hare Lane had focused on the impressive start to the League campaign enjoyed by George Chuter's Hinckley side along with the disappointing first defeat of the season for Chester, ending their unbeaten start, at bottom club Peterborough the previous Saturday.
Akin to last seasons fixture weather conditions, driving rain and wind, were a hindrance to both sides but on the AGP, last years mud wrestle wasn't going to be repeated.
What was repeated however, was a brilliantly controlled and muscular display from Colin Campbell's set of forwards that led to blanking Hinckley on the scoresheet for the first time since January 2014.
After a tense opening ten minutes when Hinckley blew an opportunity to score, the game burst into life. Following a maul set up just inside the Hinckley half, scrum half Tom Holloway switched play to the right. His pass to James Robbins was fed to back row George Baxter. Out of the tackle, Baxter returned the pass inside to Robbins. Running a great support line inside, Holloway took a sublime pass from Robbins to score under the posts. Robbins added the conversion.
Influential No8, and Hinckley skipper, Alex Salt, was injured in the build up to the try and was forced to leave the field.
The second half began with Chester leading 7-0. As the forwards began to dominate possession and field position, it was in the 57th minute that Chester added to the scoreboard. From a ruck on the right, outside the 22, No8 Guy Ford took the ball at first receiver, and rolling back the years, barrelled his way through 3 defenders to break free and sprint in just to the right of the posts. A try that will have the Hinckley defence coach tearing his hair out, but also symptomatic of the forward dominance that Chester were exerting and , in all fairness, had done so for most of the game. Once again Robbins added the extras.
To further add to that game narrative, the third try scored in the 78th minute, and credited to skipper Colin Campbell, came from a ferocious driving lineout, superbly controlled over 22 metres splintering, a now, ineffectual Hinckley defence. The conversion, from wide out, was unsuccesful.
The basis of this victory came from a very well drilled pack, but also a clever rotation policy of the front row forwards. Credit to coach Jan Deventer for calling the game correctly. Chester used 9 interchanges, all tactical, 6 involving the front row. Hinckley had only 2 front replacements in their front row, one had to be used due to injury in the first half. The dominance of the Chester pack prevented much front foot ball to allow Hinckley to use their much vaunted back line. When the opportunity did arise, great line speed in defence from the Chester backs nullified any threat.
Next week Chester travel to Brantigham Park, the home of new League leaders Hull Ionians RUFC.