Chester Junior Colts 17-24 Preston Grasshoppers Junior Colts
Sunday 26th April 2015
The sun was shining on Eccles RUFC to set the stage for the Raging Bull Colts League Bowl final contested between Chester RUFC and Preston Grasshoppers RFC junior colts. Chester won the toss and chose to kick to Grasshoppers, who were playing into the wind.
Hoppers have been slow starters all season and this game was no different. An early turnover by Chester on the right hand side set up the platform for them to pass it down the back line to their lighting fast winger, who rounded the cover defence to score in the left corner after 5 minutes. The conversion was missed. Chester 5-0 Preston Grasshoppers.
Hoppers began to assert some pressure, but another turnover by Chester close to their 22 allowed the strong running Chester 13, who was a thorn in Preston’s side all game, to brake down the left flank, he drew the defenders to him prior to releasing the left winger, to run in from the half way line whilst Preston scrambled back to defend. The conversion was good and Chester were good value for their lead. Chester 12-0 Preston Grasshoppers.
This set back kick started Hoppers into life. The kick off was recovered and with strong running from the forwards into the Chester defence, enabled the backs to begin to find space. Changes were made introducing Lancashire capped players of Harry Robb and Oli Cuerden. Although Flanker, Oli Cuerden was positioned at outside centre to deal with the strong running Chester backs. It was then with Cuerden’s first touch that the first Hoppers try came. Hands wide on the 22 allowed Cuerden to gain 10 metres before passing to James Molloy-Mason to score in the corner mirroring the Chester score. Harry Bashall’s conversion was wide. Chester 12-5 Preston Grasshoppers.
An injury to Aiden Clow brought yet another reshuffle in the backs with second row Nick Johnson moving into fly half; where he has played for the majority of the season.
The game then seemed to calm down with both teams putting plenty of effective phases of play together. Although the Hoppers forwards were beginning to dominate. Kieran Walmsley starting dictating play with strong runs coming from Rhys Phillips and George Jacques gathering several yards. Again the backs used the space created for them and went wide with Oli Cuerden braking two tackles to finish off wide on the left. The conversion drifted in front of the posts. Chester 12-10 Preston Grasshoppers.
The resulting kick off was claimed by Dan Flynn and the forwards started to move out of the 22 and up to half way. Jacob Browne, now on the wing, chipped over the defence and won the race to the ball, he then fly hacked the ball and touched down on the right. Harry Bashall then made an excellent conversion from the touchline. Chester 12-17 Preston Grasshoppers.
Half time Chester 12 Preston Grasshoppers 17.
The second half kicked off with the wind behind Hoppers. Hoppers kicked and began to camp in the Chester 22, it was then against the run of play the Chester 13 broke through in his own 22 and again passed to the winger who finished in the corner from 50 metres out. Conversion was short. Chester 17-17 Preston Grasshoppers.
The nerves along with fatigue crept into the play of both teams, it was the Grasshoppers who appeared to suffer most with a number of decision being refereed against them, enabling Chester release the pressure on their line. Although three times through Browne, Bashall and Clow, the Hoppers believed they had scored only for the referee to disagree.
Despite the tiredness Grasshoppers maintained their dominance, with Harry Bashall managing the game, pinning Chester in their own half. Hoppers were then awarded a penalty 5 metres out, strong forward play enabled Harry Robb to crash over the line. With another Bashall conversion. Chester 17-24 Preston Grasshoppers.
As the time ticked on, Chester appeared only to halt the pressure on their line by penalty kicks, the result from one being a ‘team’ yellow card for George Jacques. Though these clearances led only to temporary relief. Hoppers went into ball retention mode and whilst Chester were trying to force the turnover, Connor Dalgleish noticed that Chester were missing a guard to run into space. Caught on the 5 metres from the line Hoppers tried to re-gather but knocked on. From the resulting scrum the Chester nine broke and fed the winger who would have gone the length if it wasn’t for Owen Pye’s expertly timed tackle. From the line out Hoppers set the maul and passed the ball to Bashall who kicked the ball out to bring the full time whistle.
Full time Chester 17 Preston Grasshoppers 24.
Hoppers have won their first final of the season and focus now goes onto next weekend where they look to win the Lancashire Cup against Glossop. Credit must go to the Chester players and coaches who played much better than their division 2 status suggests and were worthy finalists.
1. Rhys Phillips
2. Harry Butcher
3. Chris Dixon
4. George Jacques / YC
5. Nick Johnson (capt)
6. Sean Joseph-McCormack
7. Matthew Reid
8. James Hesketh
9. Kieran Walmsley
10. Aiden Clow
11. Rory Goode
12. Harry Bashall / C C
13. Owen Pye
14. James Molloy-Mason / T
15. Jacob Browne / T
16. Oliver Cuerden / T
17. Harry Robb T
18. Conner Dalgleish
19. Daniel Flynn
20. Charlie Robinson