Western Counties West
Chard 32, Falmouth 24

CHARD bagged their first five-point haul of the season with a good all-round performance against a more than useful Falmouth team on Saturday, writes Glyn Hughes.

With injuries and unavailability still hindering selection, the home side chose to blood several younger players, who all played well, including 17-year-old Niall Crouch at fly-half.

Crouch looked confident and looks like he could develop into a useful player as he gets more games under his belt.

Chard normally start games slowly, so it was heartening to see the team take the game to Falmouth right from the off. 

The visitors were pinned back in their 22 immediately, and following a penalty into the corner, hooker Joe Mainwaring scored after a well-worked catch and drive move. 

Crouch converted and Chard held an early seven-point advantage.

Crouch added a penalty goal to take Chard into double figures, and it would not be long before they added to their try account with two more scores.

Prop Dave Biss was having a great game, and he started a bulldozing run from close to the halfway line, and much to the delight of the 200-plus crowd he burst through several despairing tackles before offloading to flanker Jason Wright a few metres from the line for the hosts' second try.

Crouch narrowly failed to convert from close to the touchline, but Chard's confidence was high at this point and a third try soon followed, with Wright again getting the touchdown following a lovely counter-attack from deep in their own half.

With a quarter of the match gone, the home side had a clear 20-point lead, but if they thought their visitors were dead and buried they would soon realise that this was not the case.

As the half wore on Falmouth got back more and more in to the game, and with Wright being sent to the bin for 10 minutes, Chard had to endure a lot of pressure. 

However, their defensive play remained solid and they safely negotiated that spell to lead 20-0 at half time.

Falmouth started the second half strongly and took full advantage of the hosts being unable to cope with the restart kick. 

This can be a real problem at times for Chard, and on this occasion they paid the penalty when Falmouth number eight Tom Spiller crashed over for a try, converted by the accurate boot of Justyn Irons.

Irons added another penalty to cut the deficit in half and Chard at this point were certainly wobbling a little, their forwards being shoved around in the set-piece for the first time in the game.

The hosts managed to get back on track, however, and scored two more tries in the following 10 minutes. 

Wing Emile Szdelko made a terrific break and after some fine inter-passing Chard shoved their way over the line for the bonus-point score, with another very promising young player, Adam Moore, getting the score. 

Crouch converted to make the score 27-10.

The home side were again poor from the restart but somehow survived, and from a lineout following a kick to touch skipper Ryan Helliar touched down for Chard's fifth try, which although unconverted gave them a 32-10 advantage.

Falmouth were far from done, though, and a late onslaught saw them come back with tries from Tom Edmonds and Ollie Church, both of which were converted by Irons. 

Suddenly Falmouth were in with a chance of getting two bonus points if they could get a fourth try, but Chard held on for a very good win.

Coach Jim Wagstaff and his team will take a lot of positives from this performance, but they know there are still plenty of things to work on, and Chard need to put in this sort of performance on the road and not just at home.

Next Saturday, Chard travel to Kingsbridge.

Chard: David Biss, Joe Mainwaring, Luke Hill, Adam Moore, Max Gosden, Billy Brooks, Jason Wright, Scott Johnson, Ryan Helliar (c), Niall Crouch, Emil Szydelko, William Biss, Gabriel Riley, Harry Cleal, Ben Stead, Warren Lewis, Joshua Strickland, Ieuan Watkins