Chard score last-gasp try to win well at Cullompton
PUBLISHED: 16:46 12 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 12 January 2020
Chard scored deep into added time at the end of a compelling contest in Mid Devon where they defeated hosts Cullompton 24-17, writes Glyn Hughes.
A large number of Chard followers travelled to the game and they saw another terrific second half show from Chard that saw them score four tries, the final one coming with the match into its 87th minute with Ryan Helliar crossing the line to huge roars of approval from the travelling support and groans of despair from the home fans in a 200 plus crowd.
That last-gasp score gave Chard a bonus score success that most certainly seemed highly unlikely at half-time at Stafford Park!
Chard won the toss and chose to play down the slight slope in the first half, but against a strong breeze, which would prove pivotal to their efforts, when in their favour, in the second half.
Chard started the game very poorly and their usually strong compact scrummage was upstaged in the opening encounters by the hosts.
Winning good ball, Cully ran the ball well from the off and took a very early lead when they made the most of some poor tackling to burst through a huge gap and score a fine try with hooker Chris Grant getting the touchdown and winger Josh Luxon tucked away the conversion.
Soon after the home lead was doubled, and in similar fashion with lock forward Andrew Hayball the try scorer and Luxon again adding the extras.
Several Chard players, including Billy Brooks and Ben Stead, suffered injuries which required off-field treatment, resulting in on-field positional and personnel changes . These changes did not help Chard get any fluency in their play, but their defensive play was improving and player-coach Ben Thomas kicked intelligently in the swirling conditions.
Chard rarely looked like scoring in the first half, and were often pinned back by wind assisted long kicks up field.
However, they held on and were now winning the tight forward battles with Luke Aplin and David Biss both in outstanding form and, as the half-time whistle blew, the home side trooped off holding a 14-0 lead.
Chard dominated much of the second half both territorially and in terms of possession, but they had to wait until the 54th minute before troubling the scoreboard operator.
It was appropriate that front rower Ben Robinson, who had a very good game popped up to take the try scoring pass and score wide out on the left. Paul Nicholls narrowly missed the conversion.
Shortly afterwards, that man Robinson showed his strength and determination to score his second try of the game.
Despite missing the conversion Chard were now clearly on a roll and although still trailing by four points they now looked a completely different side and certainly one capable of going on to win.
More good forward play set up an opportunity for Thomas who jinked through under the posts for a converted try.
This score put Chard ahead for the first time in the contest, but straight from the restart the difficult conditions resulted in the ball being knocked on and when a player in front of the ball played it Chard were rightly penalised for being off-side and Luxon duly slotted a penalty top level things up at 17-all.
With the Stafford Park score board showing 87 minutes played, Chard gained a lot of ground with a huge kick to the corner where they won good possession, and, after a series of forward drives the ball got into the hands of Helliar and, from this point, there was only going to be one outcome and Helliar obliged with a superb try converted by Thomas which sent the Chard fans wild and broke the hearts of the Cully faithful.
Once again Chard showed again that, while they may not be the best starters, they have proved time and again that they simply never give up!
The line-outs were much improved and good use of the rotation rules by coach Jon Hendy was clearly a vital factor which was well illustrated by the impact performance of Max Gosden in the second half.
On Saturday (January 18), Chard entertain Falmouth who have improved a lot in recent weeks and got a stunning victory over Bideford last weekend. The game between the sides at Falmouth was drawn so Chard will be very keen to go one better this time round. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
Chard team: Stead, Edwards, Brooks, Crouch, Szydelko, Thomas, Nicholls, Biss, Mainwaring, Robinson, Tinley(capt) Elliot, Wright, Riley, Helliar. Replacements:- Aplin, Gosden, Russo (all used)