CHARD overcame the handicap of seeing two players sent to the sin-bin to record an impressive 30-19 victory over Clevedon in Tribute South West 1 West.
The home side, who had shocked league leaders Cleve seven days earlier, approached the game in confident mood.
But with Clevedon arriving on the back of a victory over second-placed St Austell, the stage was set for an intriguing encounter.
Chard went into the game without Jim Wagstaff so one of the club’s most promising young players, Gabe Riley, started at No8 and Ryan Helliar, after a long time out because of injury, took his place on the replacements bench.
The first 15 minutes or so were very evenly contested and one kick and chase by centre Neil Douglas was the closest either side got to scoring.
However the signs were there that the powerful Clevedon forwards had met their match in this game.
And when they were shunted backwards at pace scrum half Ben Johnson released the ball out wide. Full back Bryan Harrison burst into the back line and went over in the corner for the opening try converted by skipper Chris Doak.
The referee had to calm things down on occasions after some tough exchanges but Chard increased their lead when prop Nick Hyslop, who always fancies himself as an attacking three quarter, made a nice move before off-loading to Douglas who scored a second try for the home side. Doak’s conversion hit the posts.
Clevedon had some very useful players, particularly at half back and centre, and a lovely counter-attack resulted in Tom Thie going over for a try converted by Mike Taylor.
The full-on commitment of both teams inevitably led to players being sent to the ‘bin’ and on the half hour Chard’s Mark Parsons had to go.
However the home side still had the edge and Doak succeeded with a penalty kick to give his team a 15-7 interval lead.
Early in the second half Chard, now back to full strength, opted to kick an easy penalty chance to the corner rather than go for the points and the decision paid off handsomely. From the line-out the forwards pushed Clevedon back over their line and Jenkins got his seemingly weekly try.
Chard were beginning to play some really expansive rugby and were throwing the ball about in exciting fashion.
But this can also lead to mistakes and Clevedon got back into the game when the pacey Thie intercepted a pass and raced fully 70 metres to score under the posts.
Taylor added the extras to put his team within one score of Chard and Clevedon suddenly had their tails up.
Chard had too much to say to the referee after one decision and as a result Lee Massey was the second Chard player to go to the bin. Clevedon missed a trick when they missed the resulting easy penalty kick.
Chard had brought on Jason Luff at this point for wing Jack Pennington who had tweaked a hamstring. Harrison moved out to the wing and Luff slotted in at full-back.
Luff would benefit almost immediately when from more good ball provided by the forwards the backs created space and Luff ran through a huge gap to score the fourth and bonus point try for Chard. Doak added the conversion.
Clevedon were never really out of things and following a series of drives to the Chard line flanker Harley Foley scored a deserved try. The conversion attempt by Taylor was missed.
A late penalty from Doak sealed another good win for Chard.
This was a good display by Chard but the high penalty count and an inability to keep 15 players on the pitch for the whole match needs to be looked at.
This Saturday Chard finish their pre-Christmas programme at North Petherton who currently lie two places above them in the league table. Kick-off is 2.30pm.
Chard 2nds are at home to second-placed Clevedon 2nds on the main ground (2.30pm).
Chard: Harrison, Pennington, Douglas, L Massey, J Massey, Doak (capt), Johnson, Hyslop, Jenkins, Aplin, Mouland, Henly, Parsons, Wright, Riley. Replacements: Robinson, Luff, Helliar (all used).