Chester 31-5 Preston Grasshoppers
Chester picked up their first win of the season with a dominant display against Preston Grasshoppers.
The home side bagged three tries in the first thirteen minutes as Hoppers struggled to deal with a strong and physical Chester pack.
The afternoon’s tone was set in the third minute when Chester hooker Liam Gill scored a try from a driving maul in Chester’s first attack of the match.
Six minutes later, flanker Kyle Joseph dotted down from another Chester line-out, then full-back Callum Bennett scored out wide despite looking as though he had dropped the ball before touching down.
Chester dominated the set piece from minute one, much the disappointment of Hoppers head-coach Garth Dew:
“It’s frustrating because we did analysis on Chester and we knew they had a good driving maul, so we identified that we could not afford to give penalties away. We talked about this and performed numerous drills in training, then we’ve gone out today and given away five penalties in the first fifteen minutes, they’ve scored three tries from driving mauls and the game’s over.”
“It’s a bit of a reality check for us and I think the lads need to start listening to what we are telling them otherwise it’s going to be a long season.”
“After Sedgley last week, we’re conceding far too many tries from driving mauls and I think there’s different ways of dealing with it. Our general game management needs to improve. I thought we’d established how to manage games in the last couple of seasons but we’ve gone away from that.”
Hoppers showed some resilience in the second-quarter and started to come back into the game by getting good front ball to their backs, with the forwards also running hard. The game was becoming more even but Hoppers were unable to break Chester’s solid defensive line.
Gill bagged his second try of the afternoon, again from a driving maul, just before half-time with Alex Burrage adding the extras on in impressive debut to give Chester a deserved 24-0 lead.
Hoppers started the second-half in much better fashion: moving the ball well amongst the backs, but once again were unable to get beyond the gain-line.
A lengthy delay on the hour due to a nasty concussion injury to Hoppers centre Niall Crosley didn’t stop Chester asserting their dominance. They were awarded a penalty try after Hoppers collapsed a driving maul, and Burrage’s conversion gave the hosts an unassailable 31-0 lead.
Hoppers left Chester with one try to their name when flanker Will Lees dotted down, but a poor start ultimately cost them according to Dew:
“The game was probably over by half-time but we showed good character to come back and try to change the result. I thought we could have scored some tries and get back in the game because we had a lot of territory, but silly mistakes cost us: kicks not hitting the touchline, giving away cheap penalties and poor passing and handing when in promising positions.”
“It’s just a bad day in the office and we have to try and remain pragmatic and not lose our heads, we’re only three games into a long season and there’s a lot of work to do for next week.”
Chester – Bennett; Green, Foden, Payne, Ross; Burrage, Morecombe; Campbell, Gill, Fitzgerald, Bown, White, Joseph, Cokell, Ford.
Replacements – Strudwick, Baston, Blackwell, Jones, Craven.
Hoppers – Viney; Trueman, Russell, Crosley, Zavallis-Roebuck; Allen, Moulding; Mabaya, Beaty, Altham, Roddy, Murray, Gale, Lees, Proctor.
Replacements – Taylor, Madden, Bramhall, Woof, Hough.
Report by Henry Woodsford