Chard see off Bideford in thrilling match

16:28 25 February 2014

Chard 34, Bideford 23

Chard were worthy winners in an absorbing contest, writes Glyn Hughes.

Chard had an early opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded an easy penalty attempt but they opted to go for a try which unfortunately came to nothing. In fact it was Bideford who opened the scoring when their flyhalf Ollie Wickett succeeded with a penalty goal after eight minutes.

Within minutes Bideford increased their lead when Wicketts ran from deep before chipping a lovely kick ahead which was gathered by winger Sam Olde who showed Chard a clean pair of heels to race away for a great try. Not for the first time this season Chard were caught out by a counter attack which is becoming somewhat of an Achilles heel for them.

Chard gave away a number of penalties in the first quarter and were getting frustrated, but gradually the Chard forwards, arguably the most formidable unit in the league, took control, and they got right back in it with a classic catch and drive from a lineout with Jim Wagstaff getting the touchdown for an unconverted try.

Within a short time Chard were in front when centre Jack Pennington made a good break before off loading to Wagstaff for try number two. Bideford then shot themselves in the foot when they had a player sin binned and Chard took full advantage to get their third try shortly before the break when that man Wagstaff went over for his and the team’s third try.

Chard had a very poor start to the second half when they tested the crowds patience with some suicidal rugby deep in their own half. Kicks got charged down, passes went astray and they were fortunate that Bideford only reduced the arrears with another penalty from Wicketts.

Chard then got back into attacking mode and increased their lead when initially Neil Douglas and then lock forward Richard Mouland crossed for tries with one of them being converted by skipper Chris Doak.

Chard were now seemingly out of sight of their visitors but once again Bideford caught them out on the counterattack and it was Olde who again raced through to score his second try which Wicketts converted to make then score 27 -18. Sheer pace is such an asset in rugby.

Both sides played some super rugby in the final quarter and some swift thinking in the backs set up Pennington for an easy try which was converted by Doak.

Chard had a player binned in the final minutes and this allowed Bideford to get the final score of the match when back row forward Matt Dennis crossed for an unconverted try.

A good bonus point win for Chard against a more than useful Bideford side who on this form should comfortably avoid ending the season in one of the three relegation places.

Chard: Douglas,Harrison,Lee Massey, Pennington, Joe Massey, Doak(capt) Helliar, Wagstaff. Riley, Parsons, Henly, Mouland, Aplin, Jenkins, Hyslop. Replacements;- Robinson, Johnson, Roberts(all used)

This weekend Chard have a very attractive local derby away against Bridgwater and Albion (2.30pm).

Chard narrowly won the reverse fixture earlier in the season and will be really up for this contest as they are looking to win at Bridgwater for the first time in their history. Bridgwater are currently below Chard in the table, but their recent form has been much improved and there is no doubt this will be a very tough game for Chard.

Chards young back row forward Gabe Riley has been selected in a squad of 22 for the England Colleges team who have games against Ireland and Wales in March.

On Saturday Chard 2nds and 3rds have home league fixtures against Yatton 2nds and North Petherton 3rds respectively. Both games kicking off at 2.30pm.

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