Western Counties (W) Honiton 21, Chard 22

CHARD secured their first away league win since April 2018 as they edged past Honiton on Saturday, writes Glyn Hughes.

Prior to league rugby, Chard played Honiton on a regular basis but Honiton winning promotion last season set up the first ever league meeting between the two and a large number of Chard supporters made the trip.

A brilliant and powerful display in the final quarter of the game and a late converted try from Ryan Helliar sent these supporters home happy. An away win at last!

Honiton won the toss and elected to play up the slope in the first half but with the wind blowing up the slope negated any real advantage that playing down the slope can sometimes give you.

Chard lost two more players to injury during last week's win against Kingsbridge but they were boosted by the return of flanker Jason Wright.

With a different half-back pair in place and a late arrival, Chard had to re-organise their team a little and it took time for them to settle down.

In the opening quarter, Chard were simply not at the races with tackles being missed, touch not being found and kicks not being chased.

Honiton were right up for it and deservedly took the lead when Ollie Cave scored a converted try in the top left hand corner.

Chard then lost Charlie Roberts to the bin for apparently dangerous use of the arm but, despite being a man short, Chard pulled three points back when Niall Crouch slotted over a penalty.

Crouch then missed a penalty he should have probably converted and Chard were forced into another change when returning skipper Matt Tinley replaced the injured Ben Robinson.

On balance, Honiton had been the better team in the first half and reached the interval holding on to their slight advantage.

Chard had a great start to the second half when a flowing move up the left wing ended with Ben Stead scoring in the corner.

Crouch really nailed the conversion and Chard led 10-7.

Teams are often at their most vulnerable when they have just scored and this proved to the case when Chard made a hash of the restart and gifted Honiton a try which was gratefully scored by winger Tom Pugsley.

The try was converted to put Honiton 14-10 ahead.

Soon afterwards, Chard conceded another try when they missed several tackles in midfield and Dan Hawke scored another converted effort under the posts.

Now trailing 21-10, it looked like another away defeat for Chard but the forwards, with Liam Mustchin outstanding, had other ideas and could well have scored almost immediately from a classic catch and drive move following a lineout.

The try was disallowed but Chard did get back in to the game when Wright went over for a good try which went unconverted, meaning Chard still needed a converted try to win.

With two minutes left, the forwards again provided the opportunity and Ryan Helliar crossed the whitewash.

Crouch calmly stepped up to the plate and added the conversion points and, despite a few nervous moments, Chard held on to win.

Not the best of performances by Chard but they were resilient and took their chances well to at last gain that elusive away victory

Honiton performed admirably and will be somewhat disappointed to have only got a losing bonus point out of the game.

Chard: Mouland, Edwards, Brooks, Crouch, Roberts, Thomas, Nicholls, Helliar, Wright, Mainwaring, Gosden, Moore, Biss, Robinson, Aplin. Replacements: Mustchin, Stead, Tinley (all used)

Next Saturday Chard have another first when they entertain Cornish side Penryn who got promoted last season as champions of the Cornish and Devon League.

As far as we are aware, Chard have never played Penryn before. The Cornish club have a rich history and a great game is anticipated. Kick off 3pm

Reminder to all rugby fans in Chard that the world cup semi final between England and New Zealand kicks off at 9am next Saturday morning and will be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse. A cooked breakfast will be available.