Crouch keeps his cool to convert his late try to seal Chard a thrilling win over Kingsbridge
PUBLISHED: 18:52 13 October 2019 | UPDATED: 19:46 13 October 2019
Chard were 23-21 winners when they entertained Kingsbridge in a Western Counties West fixture, writes Glynn Hughes.
After what was a compelling encounter, both sides deserve the highest of praise for providing such fantastic entertainment for the supporters and the Chard RFC VPs who were in attendance for their annual get together.
In the event a try in the final moments of the game from young fly half Niall Crouch, who then proceeded to tuck over the conversion, saw Chard to their third victory of the league campaign.
The game did not start well for Chard because they lost their centre Joe Massey with a knee injury in the opening minute which meant Charlie Roberts moving inside from the wing and James Vining coming off the bench to play out wide.
In addition to the loss of Massey, Chard were really under the cosh in the opening quarter of the game when not once were they able to escape from their own half!
Kingsbridge spurned two easy penalty attempts to go for a bigger reward, but the Chard defensive play to a man was absolutely superb during this period and they managed to hang on.
Kingsbridge then proceeded to give away a penalty the first time Chard got into their half and Crouch slotted the ball between the posts to give his team the lead.
Within minutes, Chard had increased their lead with a wonderful try.
Apparently it was a training ground routine that had never worked before!
Vining was involved as was his opposite winger winger Huw Edwards, who got the touchdown. Crouch missed the conversion, but from nowhere Chard were now eight points clear.
Chard themselves decided to spurn an easy penalty attempt right on the half-time whistle but they made the doubters eat their words when Ryan Helliar went over for an unconverted effort.
Chard had been under a lot of pressure, but they survived and then took their chances well and the sides trooped off at the break with Chard holding a 13-0 advantage.
After the break Chard really took the game to Kingsbridge and their forwards particularly dominated proceedings.
The front row of Luke Aplin, Ben Robinson, Dave Biss were particularly good as was Liam Mustchin when he came on for Aplin.
Unfortunately, Chard were somehow unable to add to the score during this period and in fact, after 61minutes, Kingsbridge were right back in the mix when they were awarded a penalty try which also resulted in impressive Chard scrum half Ross Colenso suffering a double whammy in that he received a yellow card as well as suffering a shoulder injury which would result in him taking no further part in the game.
This score buoyed up the visitors and they scored another good try within minutes when centre George Banfield got the touchdown and fly half Ben Newman added the extras to put his team ahead for the first time in the match.
However, Kingsbridge were very poor from the restart and paid the price as they conceded a penalty that Crouch arrowed between the uprights to see his side into a 16-14 lead.
With so many stoppages during the half the game seemed to go on and on and when Ali Hamilton, the visitors number eight, scored a try converted by Newman, all seemed lost for Chard.
However, in the final few plays of the match the visitors scrum was destroyed by Chard several times and with time running out the opportunity arose for Crouch to sneak over for that final try.
This was certainly a terrific win for Chard, but the injuries picked up are a worry and it is hoped that Colenso and Massey will both make full and speedy recoveries.
Chard team: Ben Stead, Charlie Roberts, Billy Brooks, Joe Massey, Huw Edwards, Niall Crouch, Ross Colenso, Ryan Helliar, Joe Mainwaring, Max Gosden, Adam Moore, Warren Lewis, Dave Biss, Ben Robinson, Luke Aplin. Replacements( all used) Liam Mustchin, James Vining, Jon Hendy
On Saturday (October 19), Chard are away at Honiton for what is believed to be the first league encounter between the two sides although there have been many 'friendly encounters' over the years.
Honiton won the Junior Vase at Twickenham last season as well as getting promoted into this division. It should be a very good game between two very useful sides. Kick off at Allhallows, Honiton is 3pm.