Chard battle well in defeat to high-flying Crediton

Chard 1st XV rugby action from the Western Counties (W) meeting with Chard. Picture GARY BIDE

Chard 1st XV rugby action from the Western Counties (W) meeting with Chard. Picture GARY BIDE - Credit: Archant

Chard went down 35-18 in their Western Counties (W) meeting with Crediton, writes Gavin Smillie.

The game with the Mid Devon side marked the return to Chard of James Luff, who had, perhaps, an all too brief spell as player-coach at Chard a few years ago!

Before the action got underway there was an impeccable minutes silence observed by players and supporters to remember the long-serving committee member and former player at the club – Nick Urch – who sadly passed away recently. Nick served the club as secretary of two decades and he is going to be sorely missed by family and friends and all at the rugby club.

When the game got underway it was clear that the overcast conditions would not favour either side, but Chard made a bright start and, in the early exchanges, they put together some good passages of play, giving real hope to another good turnout of support that a second home win of the year was distinctly possible!

However, the early good form from Chard faded as Crediton found their feet in the contest and they began to find space in the wide areas to put pressure on the Chard defenders.

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The pressure soon led to a good move along the Crediton three quarters line resulting in a try for winger Andrew Smerdon, which was converted by Oli Down.

The visiting score served as a ‘reminder’ to Chard that they were in a contest and they sought to attack the visiting line at every opportunity and were awarded a number of penalties, two of which young fly half Nial crouch tucked away to see Chard close to within a point.

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The Crediton backs continued to carry a very real threat and the only other score of a well-contested first half came when Down slotted a penalty and the visitors trooped off at the break leading 10-6.

During the interval the home side could have been forgiven for feeling they could go on and take something from the game, given the closeness of the first 40 minutes, but those hopes were dealt a blow early in the second half when Down ran through the home ranks to score an unconverted try and extend the Crediton lead to 15-6.

The visitors continued to enjoy dominance and they added tries through Josh Woodland and flanker Jake Clarke. Neither conversion was slotted, but the 25-6 score line meant that Crediton had secured the bonus point.

Chard refused to lie back and accept defeat. Indeed, they fought hard to gain territory and scored tries through Dave Biss and Luke Hill to give the home faithful hope that they might see their side bag a bonus point!

However, with Chard throwing everything at their opponents line, at times it did leave Chard short of cover, and Crediton winger Andrew Smerdon crossed for the visitors fifth try before the final whistle was blown.

What was clear over the 80 minutes of action was that Chard had stepped up and improved from their win over Winscombe the week before, but they found Crediton, who have their eyes on promotion, a much tougher opponent that the Somerset side had been.

It certainly helped that Chard were able to field a very similar side to the one they had put out seven days before and there’s no doubt that the key for the remainder of the campaign is keeping this matchday squad together.

Effort cannot be faulted and clear thinking and game management will help in coming encounters. Good help and advice is bolstering the coaching efforts and, although improvements are slow at the moment, as long as they happen in good time, there is still time for Chard to avoid relegation worries at the end of the season.

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