Broadstreet Rugby Football Club entertained fourth placed, title chasers, Chester RFC at the Ivor Preece Field, Rugby Road in lovely wintery sunshine with a more than realistic objective of a reversal of the loss experienced way back in September, despite the high-flying visitors returning very much to form in recent weeks; but, an unusual lack of a cutting edge and exceptionally good defence by the visitors, saw ‘Street fall four points short in losing 19 – 23 in a game where the hosts enjoyed more than enough possession and territory to have taken the spoils writes Bob Harcourt.
Chester opened the scoring with a try on only their third sortie into the ‘Street half after all the early running by the hosts failed to produce a point. Craig Ross (a former ‘Street player) dotted down wide out after a jinky run evaded tackles and Will Goodwin added the extras for 0 -7. A siege gun penalty from Ben Palmer pulled three back soon after, 3 – 7 and another missed tackle saw Craig Ross break down the left and back row Mike Craven was on hand to finish off. With Goodwin’s conversion, Chester led 3 – 12 with half time approaching. But ‘Street finished strongly and after one aborted scrum the home eight powered their opposites backwards and earned a penalty try. Palmer converted to keep his team in touch.
Half time: Broadstreet 10 Chester 12.
Threequarter changes were not helping, a late reshuffle disrupting the flow and, the powerful directness of James Otutaha was missed; and, add to that a break-down lottery, producing slow ball, resulting in a low scoring match between two teams previously adept at bagging tries, it was not the best of performances. Periodic pressure by ‘Street failed to produce further tries for the hosts as Chester continued with their impressive defensive frenzy, which, in reality, was not always the right side of the line. Numerous warnings went unheeded and penalties resulted, but it took until the second half before meaningful sanction when Guy Ford’s sin-binning reflected his team’s ongoing break-down offending. Obviously, ‘Street would have preferred tries but they had to make do overall with four Ben Palmer penalty kicks instead. However, despite taking a 16 – 12 lead in the third quarter and with Ford off the field, it was Chester who capitalised; Rhys Hayes scoring in the far left corner; but the try was only awarded after substantial discussion between referee Andrew McNeaney and touch judge James Minards; 16 – 17 with 20 minutes remaining. Palmer pulled 3 points back with another fine penalty kick 19 -17; and, ironically, ‘Street then went through a period of indiscretion, copping a flurry of penalties as the arm-wrestle ensued with both sides putting in some determined phases to try and clinch the win. In the end, two late Goodwin penalties sealed it for Chester as they edged ahead 19 – 23. But, as the final whistle neared, ‘Street put together a phase of disciplined play to take them to 10 metres from the Chester line and in front of the posts. Chester offended and conceded a penalty. Needing the try, ‘Street opted for the scrum, but, despite pushing Chester’s eight back quickly; the referee deemed an illegality and bafflingly awarded the retreating defending side a penalty. To Chester’s relief, the ball was booted over their own goal-line to end a disappointing encounter.
Full Time: Broadstreet 19 Chester 23.
Thought for the Game:
Both sides were guilty of mistakes and taking wrong options but despite being pretty evenly matched overall, the result was down to fate in the end, with Chester edging the calls late on. As Mrs Freemantle said at the end, “We needed last week’s ref for that last scrum”? The reality is, even though the win was there, we got a point out of a less than clinical, below par performance. From Chester’s point of view, defence, any defence, wins games! Minds on the future lads!
Squad: Ben Cooper; Jeff Gregson, Nathan Tilsley, Andy Murray, Josh Palmer; Ben Palmer, Nick Thatcher; Joe Foreman, Stewart Pearl, Jake Dodd, Callum Tucker, Matthew Solomon, Jack Gibbons, Jamie Harrop, Jacques Le Roux. Aaron Crofts, Rikki Stout, Dan Wright, Beau Carney, Lee Chapman.