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RUGBY: Chard in national league play-off today
6:40am Saturday 26th April 2014 in Sport
CHARD are just 80 minutes away from playing national league rugby for the first time after winning 59-0 at Thornbury on Saturday.
The victory secured a play-off spot in Tribute South West 1 West.
Chard now visit Towcestrians in Northamptonshire on Saturday (3pm) when the prize will be a place in National Division 3 South West next season.
Victory would be a stunning achievement for Chard who gained promotion from Western Counties North just two years ago.
Chard won the toss against Thornbury and played up the slope in the first half but it soon became clear that Chard were the stronger side.
Winger Jack Pennington raced away for the opening try after five minutes following a clever kick ahead by Charlie Roberts.
Skipper Chris Doak, who would enjoy a good afternoon with the boot, added the extras. Chard lost lock forward Richard Mouland to injury very early on and he was replaced by the dependable Max Gosden.
Chard soon doubled their lead when full back Bryan Harrison linked well with Pennington who crossed for his second try, again converted by Doak.
Harrison was involved with the third try when he made space for the impressive Roberts to score an unconverted try.
Thornbury were only winning possession on an occasional basis but when they did have the ball they used it well and despite fielding a clearly depleted side they were keen to play attacking rugby.
On the half hour Roberts linked with prop Luke Aplin who in turn set up Ryan Helliar for a clear run to the line and with the bonus point secured Doak also added the conversion.
On the last play before the break Chard kicked a penalty to the corner and executed a perfect catch and drive move with Simon Jenkins getting try No5 to make the score 31-0.
The home side could easily have capitulated in the second half, particularly as they had the slope as well as Chard to contend with.
To their credit they did not and Chard would have to play some good rugby to break them down.
Pennington did go over for his third try with a quarter of the half gone before he was replaced by Ben Stead.
Stead then showed the large contingent of Chard supporters that he was still a real threat with the ball in hand and he linked superbly with centre Neil Douglas to race in for another converted try.
The home forwards were having a torrid time against the Chard pack and it was no real surprise when they got shoved back from a five metre scrummage with Jim Wagstaff getting the touchdown.
Chard also defended well and they managed to keep out all attempts by the home side to score.
Some quick thinking from Stead in his own 22 metre area set up the final try. Having marked the ball he took a quick tap and fed Harrison who raced 70 metres to score Chard’s ninth try of the game.
This was an excellent all-round performance from Chard with again some of the unsung heroes such as Alan Henley, Jason Wright and Nick Hyslop all having fine games.
Chard: Harrison, Roberts, Douglas, Massey, Pennington, Doak, Helliar, Aplin, Jenkins, Hyslop Mouland, Henly, Parsons, Wright, Wagstaff. Replacements (all used) Stead, Gosden and Twigg.