The Gladiators of Chester took the home spoils in this top 4 tussle within Division 2, dishing out Crosfields first league fixture defeat in over a year.
Despite the recent weather, Sunday morning sunshine shone on Helsby RUFC, and after a short delay for kit the contest commenced.
Chester started the game with a high short kick-off and retained possession. Their impetus to drive for the line was ably thwarted by the Crosfields defence.
The next few sets saw both teams trade knock-ons, which seemed to set the tone for most of the game. Then a bright piece of handling play, directed by Kane Sullivan, saw Crosfields eat up the metres - but failed at the last with a knockon on the 5th tackle. From the resulting scrum, Chester break through the right side defence and race away to score under the posts, converting easily.
Straight from the restart Chester knock-on again, gifting Crosfields possession deep in their territory. And soon they were rewarded with a try for Taylor Boyne
from a great offload by Ryan Ellison
. Kane Sullivan successfully converting to even things up.
The same short high restart to the left edge was deftly dealt with this time, and a succession of drives up the left edge enabled a Crosfield kick from Keiran Cripps on the last tackle, not dealt with cleanly by Chester, allowing cam Bennett to pick up and scurry across to score on the wing. Tricky conversion attempt missed, score now 6 - 10.
The restart again not dealt with by Crosfields, and Chester now camped on the try line were awarded a penalty. This was shipped across the sticks, and offloaded to allow them in on the right hand side. Unsuccessful conversion, 10 all.
The next set following the restart was excellently stopped on the fifth tackle by Taylor Boyne
, wrapping the kicker up giving the turnover. However, after eating up the metres again, rampaging into Chester territory, all came to none with another Crosfields knock-on with 20 minutes gone. Through this next period, Chester seemed to sense a little deflation in the Crosfields ranks after this, and their next set saw a kick on the last picked up by Chester to score on the right edge. Failed conversion attempt, but Chester with their nose in front, 14 - 10.
Very soon after, following a few missed tackles, Chester were in on the right again, this time converting to make the halftime score 20 - 10.
Chester come close to scoring after the restart, but the defence on the line holds solid this time and sees Crosfields awarded a penalty to ease the Chester pressure. Soon back on again as Crosfields are penalised for dissent after being pulled for an incorrect play the ball. Defence still holding though, and on regaining possession, Tom Millington
blasts through the line on half way and on 20 metres puts the blisteringly supporting Kane Sullivan in for a try under the sticks, of which he duly converted. 20 - 16 after half an hours play.
Chester however, regather another unfielded high kick following a bounce in space, and they are through and in to the right side of the posts. Easily converted to keep that 2 score lead, 26 - 16.
Further knock-ons traded, but for Chester's lead they were looking the brighter, more territory to them sees them knock-on over the line on a fifth tackle kick. They continued to pressure and offload, added to a few more missed tackles saw them in again just left of the posts. Converted for 32 - 16 and a handsome lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Endevour not lost, Crosfields did regroup to see Jordan Thomason
put Reid Dunkin in for a debut try out wide on the left. Conversion unsuccessful, 32 - 20.
Then Chester had the last say as Crosfields knock-on once again, and from the scrum Chester stepped the tired defence to breeze through with a final unconverted score of 36 - 20.
Disappointment all round, as this now makes the slope to the top of Division 2, and potential promotion, ever more steeper.
Though its just that, a steeper slope. Crosfields just need to run a little harder.
Lots of reasons can be thought of for such an under par performance, the disjointedness of this Summer Season, the recent unseasonal weather, school holidays, late nights, the lack of consistent games of a higher test or too much chocolate milkshake and ice cream...
None of that matters, just playing. Playing better, smarter, faster, harder. Play as a team, for the team, and the victories will return.