Hull Ionians 25-24 Chester RUFC
Last gasp disappointment
Chester travelled back across the M62 on Saturday evening after a thrilling match against the unbeaten National 2 North league leaders.
Often, it’s the bleak weather westwards over the Pennines that makes the journey home so dismal, but on this occasion, it was the disappointment of a win grasped out of the hands of the Hare Lane outfit with the final kick of the game.
Credit is due to Ionians who looked out and out winners on the hour mark leading 15-3 and seemingly in control, only for Colin Campbell’s well drilled pack to batter their way back into the game to set up the grandstand finale. Lesser teams wouldn’t have found a way back after that disappointment. Also, credit to kicker Lewis Minikin whose nerveless 30m penalty secured the win.
Chester started the game brightly and on 15 mins James Robins kicked a penalty to put the first points on the board for Jan Deventer’s team. This merely stung the home side into action and they dominated the first half scoring 2 tries. First, scrum-half Thomas dummied his way over from close range followed by a textbook lineout catch and drive with lock Newman credited with the score.
Following the break, winger Kuku added the first of his brace after a free-flowing move. Despite shipping 3 tries, Chester never looked out of the contest on the pitch and, crucially, not on the scoreboard either as Minikin was unable to land any conversions. To Chester’s dismay he was to find his kicking boots later in the game.
The introduction of replacement scrum-half Harry Craven for Chester and his lively playmaking initiated a comeback. First, breaching Ionians aggressive defence, hooker Andy Baston forced his way over and then, matching the fine back play of the hosts, winger Sean Green skated in. James Robins, excellent off the tee all game, converted both tries and on the 69th minute Chester had the lead. The lead lasted 5 minutes before Kuku athletically finished in the corner. Crucially, Minikin landed the extras from wide out.
With 2 minutes left on the clock, Baston again barrelled over after a sustained period of phases. Chester’s picking and jamming game, so profitable this season, again producing a score. Robins conversion gave the visitors what appeared to be a 22-24 win. The second in two weeks against the incumbent league leaders.
Up stepped a hero for the home side and after some hard forward carries, Chester were penalised. Minikin’s boot did the rest, meaning the weather had no impact on the mood for the journey home.
Next week Chester entertain Stourbridge at Hare Lane, kick off 3pm