Women’s South West South 2 (1)
Chard Ladies 36, Topsham Ladies 36

CHARD Ladies came in to the New Year with confidence high following their first ever league win before Christmas, but knew they would face a tough test against league leaders Topsham, writes David Webb.

After a bright start from Chard, Topsham showed early on where their main threat was to be for most of the match.

A sharp break down the left saw centre Rebecca Partridge outpace the covering defence to score under the posts, Ann Webb converting.

Chard then came in to their own and hit back when flanker Laura Jenkins pounced on a loose ball to gain possession and Natalia-Mia Roach crashed over for the hosts’ first try.

This set the pattern for the next 20 minutes as Chard continued to dominate and, after a series of penalties, Roach again broke on the blind side to score in the corner to put the home side in the lead.

After more pressure from the Chard forwards, Sarah Kneeshaw forced her way over for the home team’s third try. The conversion hit the post and Chard led 15-7.

But once again Topsham showed why they are top of the league, with their backs showing their class.

Tasha Curry went over before an interception try from Jade Wallace took Topsham into a 17-15 half-time lead.

The second half was as entertaining as the first, with Topsham scoring first after the ball was ripped from Chard hands during a home attack, and Partridge sped down the wing to score her second of four tries.

The home side refused to wilt, as once again they played numerous phases, wearing down the visiting defence until Jenkins scored near the posts. The conversion by Georgia Adams brought the scores level at 22-22.

Hard tackling on both sides meant no score was easy but, after multiple drives, Chard captain Kerry Harris dived through the covering defence to reclaim the lead for her side, the try converted again by Adams.

With seven minutes to go, Chard scored what could have been the winning try as, after being camped on the visitors’ 5m line, Stainer cleverly burrowed through to place the ball at the foot of the post.

The conversion took Chard to a 14-point lead with six minutes to go.

Topsham fought back valiantly, as Partridge sprinted down the wing and cut back after crossing the line to score under the posts, and the conversion cut the deficit to seven.

With the last move of the match, the visitors took a quick penalty and Partridge beat the tackles of Adams and Zoe Winloe to score under the posts.

Under intense pressure, Webb drop-kicked the conversion to tie this incredible match that will live long in the memory of those who saw it.

Forward of the match: Suzannah Wilton; Back of the match: Kerry Harris; Player of the match: Ella Pantling

Chard are next in action on Sunday, February 3, away to Totnes.