Chard show serious character to storm back and defeat Bideford
PUBLISHED: 12:55 22 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:55 22 December 2019
Chard served up a very special festive cracker for another superb turnout of home support as they defeated Bideford 32-26, writes Glyn Hughes.
Despite the dreadful, weather that head been around in the days leading up to this latest Western Counties West meting, the Chard pitch was firm and ideal and there was never any doubt that the game would go ahead.
Heading into the game, Chard were without injured duo Emile Szydelko and Liam Mustchin, but were able to introduce winger Oliver Klimpke for his debut.
Chard started well and, when awarded an early penalty for off-side against the visitors, scrum half Paul Nicholls rifled the kick between the posts to open the scoring.
That set a period of play in which Bideford were by far the better team through to the break, with their collective of big, aggressive forwards and dangerous backs, they looked 'every bit' like a top three outfit!
Chard did not help their own cause by conceding at least a dozen penalties and having Ryan Helliar and Jack Elliot sent to the bin before the break!
Tries from Callum Davies and Rob Elliot which were both converted by Josh King gave Bideford a 14-3 advantage but, somehow, despite playing nearly 20 minutes with players in the bin Chard managed to keep Bideford from scoring again and, shortly before the interval, Nicholls kicked another penalty and Chard trooped off at half-time trailing by just eight points at 14-6.
However, a disastrous start to the second half, saw Chard fall further behind as they knocked-on the restart kick and, from the resulting scrum, Bideford bagged another try through Elliott and the King conversion made it 21-6 to the North Devon side.
however put Bideford further ahead. Chard knocked on the restart kick and the When the Chard defensive line was breached again soon after with Peter Hockridge crossing for the fourth try to also secure his side a bonus point, despite the conversion being missed, the visiting lead became one of 20 points at 26-6 with less than 25 minutes remaining!
Some of the home faithful might have been forgiven for thinking their side were on the way to defeat. However, each of the players on then pitch in Chard colours had other ideas!
A couple of changes were made with the pack boosted by the arrival of fresh legs and, with a tweaking of positions, Chard suddenly became a very different prospect!
Bideford were forced back and, after good work from Ben Robinson, Dave Biss crossed for the try and another successful Nicholls kick made it 26-13.
The onset of heavy rain seemed to play into Chard's hands and they scored again when the Bideford scrum was shunted backwards at quite a rate and Nicholls added to his points tally, converting his own try to make it 26-20.
In the space of just a few minutes Chard had reduced the deficit by 14 points and now clearly held the upper hand in the contest! Bideford now looked vulnerable and, quite possible, were 'there for the taking'.
Inside the final 10 minutes Chard went all out to get the converted try they now needed to put them in front and it was fitting that this came from the good wing play of Huw Edwards, who somehow got over in the left hand corner.
Despite the wind and rain, Nicholls struck a wonderful kick to add the extras and now Chard held a two point advantage.
The clearly shell-shocked visitors knew they only needed a score of any kind to retake the lead, but it would be Chard having the final say when the impressive Jack Elliot scored a fifth try in the last few minutes. Nicholls, who had had a fine game, missed the conversion, but, and from nowhere, Chard had shown their character and took a maximum five points from the match.
The performance and result were a tremendous way to get everyone in the mood for the club Christmas party which held at the club in the evening!
Chard team: Stead, Edwards, Crouch, Brooks, Klimpke, Roberts, Nicholls, D. Biss, Mainwaring, Aplin, Tinley (capt) Moore, Wright, Helliar Elliot. Replacements: (all used) Gosden, Prior and Robinson
Chard are back in league action on January 4, when they travel to t Wiveliscombe for their first league action of 2020.