Sedgley Park 45-7 Chester RUFC
By Tim Carty
Away day horror show
Unfortunately this eventually turned into the kind of rather one-sided match the final score suggests. Tigers continued their very successful late winning run, now seven matches, and are now in fourth place in the league table on 92 points. Despite this setback, Chester remain clearly in second place five points behind Hull Ionians but six in front of Huddersfield.
The warm sunny afternoon and firm pitch suited Tigers clear intention to play a confident and expansive game. They used their big forwards to make progress - carrying, off-loading and producing quick ball at the breakdown - allowing their midfield to probe for gaps, notably their diminutive flyhalf Steve Collins and powerful inside centre, Matt Riley. Given space to play, Collins was able largely to control proceedings , running loops around his centres and producing a variety of accurate kicks from hand.
During the first half Chester were under pressure much of the time, but defended well. They held out against a 20 phase Tigers’ attack from the kick off, and a little later stole the ball following a dominant Tigers’ 5 metre scrum. They had a few attacking opportunities, but lacked the control to make them count, turning over ball deep in Tigers’ 22. The home side’s breakthrough came at the end of the first quarter. Chester missed touch with a clearing penalty and Tigers countered from their own half. They built up patiently through the phases until their outside centre Oli Glasse found space to break into the Chester 22 before passing to his wing, who scored a converted try. Tigers appeared to score again in the 32nd minute but the assistant referee had spotted an offence so the visitors could clear their lines.
Chester eventually managed to gain some territory again on the point of half time. From an attacking lineout 10 metres out, they moved the ball left and winger Andy Oakden made a half break in midfield. From there the ball was moved back right and the pack took over. Tigers put up a strong defence, but eventually were unable to stop prop Rhodri Parry crossing for the try draped with a couple of defenders. James Robins converted, and Chester appeared to be back in the game for the second half.
It was not to be. After the restart, Tigers were quick to reassert their pressure, first with a penalty on 41 minutes, and then with a converted try from Oli Glasse following a break from fly half Steve Collins. Thereafter it was pretty much one way traffic. On 49 minutes they turned over the ball in their own half and their left wing, Richard Lepori beat two defenders to score. The conversion put the Tigers effectively out of sight at 24 -7. They scored three more tries, on 52 minutes, 65 minutes and 74 minutes as Chester played without much ball or territory and inevitably tired.
On the day, Chester came up against an in form Tigers side that deserved their win, nevertheless they have put in some indisputably excellent performances over recent weeks and remain well placed in the league with all to play for.