CHARD returned from this tough Western Counties North fixture with their title aspirations enhanced thanks to a 22pts-nil win at Weston Hornets - despite being forced to field a changed front row.

The absence of Nick Hyslop meant John Hendy had to go to loose head prop with Ben Robinson coming in at hooker. The new-look front three were put to the test straight after kick off when Chris Doak attempted clearance kick was charged down resulting in a five metre scrum. Chard’s pack soaked up the Hornets pressure and defended well and finally, when Chard did win possession, Alan Henley showed how a clearance kick should be executed.

Chard managed to control the first half and spread the ball well through the backs despite the windy conditions. Weston Hornets were put on the back foot and as a result gave away several penalties with Chard taking full advantage when they kicked to the corner. It was a good line-out catch and drive that led to Ryan Helliar scoring Chard’s first try in the corner. Paul Nicholls converted well, kicking into the wind. Chard controlled the first half well and it was only a few handling errors that lost them any momentum in the Hornets half. Chard kept the pressure on and moved the ball from side to side with good support from Helliar causing the Hornets defence to weaken.

Neil Douglas saw and opportunity to run through a gap and execute his trademark side- step on the full back to score under the posts.

Hornets tried to get on the scoreboard and applied some pressure but never looked like entering Chard’s 22. Their only chance was a penalty kick which was missed.

The second half proved tougher than was expected for Chard as it felt like they were playing against 16 men. Matters soon became worse as the Hornets started to get some quick ruck ball and the referee favoured the team with the ball. Helliar made tackle after tackle but was given a yellow card for not releasing.

Hornets were making camp in Chard’s 22 and took the ball into some driving mauls.

Fourteen soon became 13 as Brian Sugar was seen to collapse one of the Hornets driving mauls and also received a yellow card. The next eight minutes for the 13 Chard players left on the pitch saw some of the best aggressive defence Chard have shown all season. And when they stole the ball off the Hornets and cleared their line they were soon back to a full 15. Chard got back into their game plan and applied pressure back on the Hornets, resulting in a penalty kick which was scored by Nicholls.

Chard soon got back in the Hornets half and delivered another well executed line-out catch and drive with Nicholls controlling the ball well at the back and scoring in the corner.

Other results: Chard 2nds W/O v Ivel Barbarians 2nds; Chard 3rds 70, North Petherton 3rds 3.