Western Counties West
Chard 29, Truro 18

CHARD kept their survival chances alive with a superb second-half performance against Truro on Saturday, writes Glyn Hughes.

The hosts came back from 18-5 down to not only win but also claim a vital bonus point, full-back Ben Stead crossing for their fourth try with only minutes to go.

Chard started the game very positively and took an early lead when Matt Ayres, making his home debut, successfully slotted a penalty.

Ayres had another attempt a few minutes later, but his well-struck effort hit the crossbar and Truro managed to clear.

The away side grew into the game, however, and were at their most dangerous when their bulky ball-carriers got the ball in hand.

They got the first try of the match when a long penalty kick to the corner gave them an opportunity to attack, and scrum-half Owen Davey crossed for an unconverted try.

Shortly afterwards Chard had a let-off when Craig Williams missed a straightforward penalty, but within a few minutes centre James Martin turned up the gas and scorched over for the visitors’ second try.

Williams converted and then increased Truro’s lead with a penalty.

The visitors looked to have scored a third try, but great defence by Chard held the ball up and it remained 15-3 at half-time.

But when Williams kicked another penalty early in the second half, the hosts looked to be in real trouble.

However, Truro made a hash of the restart and quick-thinking Chard skipper Ryan Helliar nipped in to pinch the ball and score his side’s first try.

Ayres added the extras to make it 18-10.

The crowd could sense a comeback and roared their team on, rewarded when some great work by Joe Mainwaring and Stead led to Scott Johnson forcing his way over close to the posts.

Ayres, who controlling the play from fly-half, added the conversion to bring Chard within one point.

The home side received a further boost when their opponents went down to 14 men, a high tackle leading to a second yellow card, and Helliar put them ahead with his second try of the game.

Ayres converted but then suffered a knee injury and had to come off.

With time running out, Stead – who had been a real livewire since coming off the bench – burst through for the bonus-point score.

The try was unconverted and Chard clung on to their lead for the final few minutes to deny Truro a losing bonus point.

The win took Chard up to 12th place, level on points with Saltash and one point ahead of second-bottom Truro.

Chard have two very difficult games to come, away to sixth-placed Wadebridge Camels this coming Saturday (ko 3pm) and at home to title-chasing Wellington on April 13.

Realistically Chard will need to get something from these games if they are to avoid dropping down a division.

This Saturday also sees Chard 2nds travel to Martock in Somerset 2 South (ko 3pm).

Back at Essex Close, Chard Vets play Farnham Vets on the main pitch (ko 12.45pm).

That match will be followed by Chard Ladies against Minehead Ladies, also on the main pitch (ko 3pm).