Western Counties West

Chard 16, Wellington 20

CHARD put in a very encouraging display in their opening game of the 2019/20 season against a team strongly fancied to be in the promotion mix at the end of the campaign, writes Glyn Hughes.

Indeed, so promising was the Chard performance that the players felt aggrieved at the final whistle that they had not won the match.

More than 300 turned up to see this local derby and Chard started really well.

The home forwards were on top and even when Wellington did get close to the try-line they were thwarted by some superb defensive work.

The front row of Dave Biss, Ben Robinson and Luke Aplin made their presence felt and Chard would have spent more time in the opposition half had their kicking not been wayward.

Still, the hosts deservedly went in front after 20 minutes, as Wellington were penalised right in front of their posts following a 5m scrum.

Chard opted to take another scrum and this decision was rewarded when the ball was moved swiftly to the left and winger Huw Edwards went over in the corner.

Ahead 5-0 at the break, Chard started the second half well and extended their lead courtesy of a penalty from the boot of Niall Crouch.

However, they gave away a try straight from the restart, which would prove costly.

No-one really took responsibility to deal with the restart, the ball was knocked on and Wellington took full advantage as Cam Venn went over and Rob Hooper converted.

Another successful penalty from Crouch increased Chard’s advantage to 11-7, but two infringements from the hosts enabled Hooper to kick his team into the lead for the first time, 13-11.

Wellington’s tails were up and they scored a really good try when Chris Kitto crossed close to the posts, and Hooper again converted.

Chard showed their character by coming back immediately when Billy Brooks crossed near the posts, but the conversion hit the upright and Wellington led 20-16.

The hosts had an opportunity in the final minutes when a kick to the corner put them in a good position, but they failed to win the ball cleanly and the chance was lost.

Even so, this was a very encouraging display, especially from Liam Mustchin and Luke Aplin – returning from long-term injury – as well as Ross Colenso at scrum-half and Gab Riley in the back row.

Chard: Ben Stead, Jim Grossey, Billy Brooks, Charlie Roberts, Huw Edwards, Niall Crouch, Ross Colenso; Luke Aplin, Ben Robinson, Dave Biss, Max Gosden, Matt Tinley (c), Jason Wright, Gabe Riley, Ryan Helliar. Reps (all used): Liam Mustchin, Adam Moore, Joe Mainwaring.

This Saturday, Chard are at Bideford, while the 2nd XV start their season at home to Wiveliscombe 2nds (ko 3pm).