Chard Ladies 20, Totnes Ladies 27

CHARD Ladies welcomed Totnes Ladies for their first match since September, in what turned out to be a closely fought match played in excellent conditions.

After a perfectly observed minute's silence, Chard got off to the stronger start with early attacks through Sarah Kneeshaw and the returning Laura Jenkins.

From a scrum near the Totnes line, Megan Armstrong took the ball on the blind side and charged over to score in the right hand corner, to give the home team a 5-0 lead.

As the half progressed, Totnes came more into the game with strong runs from their powerful backs.

Strong defence by both flankers, Jenkins and Panting and back of the match Zoe Winlow, kept Totnes at bay until the 34th minute, when wing Annie Jones took the ball on the halfway line and sprinted round and past the covering defence to score the visitors' first try.

Chard came back immediately but strong Totnes defence kept the score 5-5 at half-time.

Chard started the second half stronger, but a 15-minute period decided the match.

First, in the 45th minute, following a series of attacks, Sarah Kneeshaw strolled unopposed through the Totnes line to score under the posts. However, the try was disallowed due to crossing and the lead denied.

From this point the momentum of the game appeared to change, with Totnes gaining confidence and the Chard tacklers hanging back for the first time in the match.

Three tries in eight minutes turned the match completely in the visitors favour, with Jordan Crook crashing over twice from close range and centre Laura Shearer making an excellent break through the heart of the Chard defence to score under the posts.

With a quarter of the match to go, and the score 22-5 in the visitors' favour, Chard began a spirited fightback.

A quick tap penalty saw Kneeshaw cross the line and this time the score stood.

For the next 10 minutes Chard continued to press and the impressive Jenkins broke through to bring the home side to within seven points.

Once again Chard attacked, but a loose pass meant that despite cover by Emma Harris, Felicity Dunn broke through to take Totnes clear again.

Chard heads did not go down as once again they came back at the visitors, and in the last minute Jenkins once again used her strength to burrow over the line for the final score of the match.

The were some very strong performances for Chard, especially from the front five in the pack and the centres in the backs.

The forward of the match was Ella Panting who was tireless on the flank, with player of the match, openside flanker Laura Jenkins, both playing their first matches of the season.

This was a very encouraging return to League rugby for the Chard Ladies, who also wish to thank all their sponsors for their new kit that they were playing in for the first time.