Chard show plenty of grounds for optimism in narrow defeat at hands of Wellington

Chard prop Luke Aplin needing four Wellington players to bring him down during Chard's opening Tribu

Chard prop Luke Aplin needing four Wellington players to bring him down during Chard's opening Tribute Western Counties West match of the new 2019/20 campaign. Picture CHARD RFC - Credit: Archant

Chard made a losing start to the new Tribute Western Counties West campaign, but there was plenty in the 20-16 home defeat at the hands of Wellington to give the Chard faithful plenty of optimism about the long season ahead, writes Glyn Hughes.

Chard gave as good as they got from first whistle to last against a team strongly fancied to be in the promotion mix at the end of the season having missed out by the narrowest of margins last year.

Indeed, so promising was the Chard display that the players felt rightly aggrieved at the final whistle that they had not won the match!

Over 300 turned up to see this local derby and Chard started really well. The home forwards were on top and even when Wellington did get close to the Chard line they were thwarted by some superb defensive work.

The starting front row of Dave Biss, Ben Robinson and Luke Aplin really made their presence felt.

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Chard were quick to clear their lines and would have spent more time in the Wellington half had their kicking not been a bit wayward at times.

Chard deservedly went in front after 20 minutes. They really put visitors forwards to the sword and from a five metre scrum Wellington were penalised right in front of their posts.

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Chard opted to take another scrum rather than take the easy three points on offer and this decision was rewarded with good possession.

The ball was comfortably won and was moved swiftly to the left and winger Huw Edwards went over in the corner for an excellent, but unconverted try and a very competitive half ended with Chard retaining their slender 5-0 lead.

Chard began the second period on the front foot and their well-organised play was rewarded with penalty goal from the boot of Niall Crouch.

Chard then frustratingly gave away a try straight from the restart which effectively would be very costly in the context of the whole match.

For the first time their organisation was questionable as no one really took on responsibility to deal with the restart. In the confusion the ball was knocked on and Wellington took full advantage and scored a try close to the posts with the impressive Cam Venn getting the touchdown.

Full back Rob Hooper added the extras and Chard were now only leading by the narrowest of margins at 8-7.

Another successful penalty from Crouch increased Chards lead, but they were then unlucky to give away a penalty themselves when the unsighted official missed a knock on before then awarding Wellington a penalty for a Chard infringement that followed.

Hooper made no mistake with the kick and added another a few minutes later when Chard were penalised for a high tackle which put his team in the lead for the first time at 13-11.

Wellington, with their tails up, then scored a really good try when Chris Kitto crossed close to the posts with Hooper adding the extras to extend the lead to one of 20-11.

Chard showed their character by coming back at Wellington immediately and they got their reward when Billy Brooks crossed near the posts. Unfortunately the conversion hit the up right and there were just the four points between the teams at 16-20 in favour of the visitors.

Chard had an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes when a kick to the corner put them in a really attacking position with even an unconverted try could have given them victory. Unfortunately they failed to win the ball cleanly and the chance was lost.

On reflection then, this was a very encouraging display especially from Liam Mustchin and Luke Aplin, returning from long term injury, and very impressive displays from Ross Colenso at scrum half and Gab Riley in the back row.

Chard team: Ben Stead, Jim Grossey, Billy Brooks, Charlie Roberts, Huw Edwards, Niall Crouch, Ross Colenso, Luke Aplin, Ben Robinson, Dave Biss, Max Gosden, Matt Tinley( capt) Jason Wright, Gabe Riley, Ryan Helliar.

Replacements (all used):- Liam Mustchin, Adam Moore,Joe MainWaring

Next Saturday (September 14), Chard are away at Bideford.

Also next Saturday, Chard 2nd XV launch their campaign with a home game against Wiveliscombe (3pm).

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