Coach’s Talk – A Report from Steve Hazzelby

Last Saturday it was our charity day in aid of breast cancer and we were at home against old rivals Chester. A lovely bright day, good playing conditions, a full house and a great atmosphere for a good game of rugby from two teams who were looking to entertain. We were looking for a good reaction from the players after the disappointment of the loss at Hull the week before.

It was a lively start from both teams, with Chester looking to run the ball at every opportunity, but it was the home team who scored the first try after 12 minutes. A good line break from centre Oli Glasse, followed by great driving play by second row Bob Birtwell, took the play deep into their half. A set piece scrum saw the ball moved wide for winger Rhys Henderson touch down in the top right-hand corner. Steve Collins added the conversion and we were now 7-0 up.

Chester hit back with a penalty shortly after but we secured our second try for prop Cash Chilvers after a powerful catch and drive maul from the forwards. Steve again added the extras and we were 14-3 up going into the last ten minutes. Chester to their credit came back strongly with a well worked catch and drive try from their forwards, as we were caught off side in midfield. We went into the interval 14-8. This was not a great half of rugby with little momentum and continuity. Both teams gave away a number of penalties which made open, flowing rugby difficult.

We were looking to up the tempo and energy in the second half and play the game in their 22. A good turn over by the Tigers saw the ball moved wide right for hooker Matt Gallagher  to beat two defenders and touch down in the corner. Unfortunately Steve just missed the conversion but we had now extended the lead to 19-8 and looked in control of the game after 60 minutes.

Our fourth and bonus point try came 5 minutes later when No 8. Will Lees crashed over from five metres out, after a great drive from the forwards. Steve added the conversion and we were 26-8 up. Chester however came back really strongly with a good try of their own in the last five minutes to reduce the lead to 26-15. They then got a their third score with a break away try in the last play of the game to end the game 26-22 and a losing bonus point.

We were happy to come away with a bonus point win, but knew that this was not a good performance from the team. Chester deserved their bonus point and we wish them well for the rest of the season.

This Saturday we are on the road with a long journey north to Tynedale. They have recorded some great results in recent weeks and we know that we will have to be at our best if we are to come away with the win. We beat them comfortably at home in December, but they are a very strong, all round team at home. We will prepare well this week and hope for a result that will keep the pressure on Hull and Rotherham at the top.