Last Friday on the Chester AGP, in very testing conditions for both teams, Cheshire Harvesters beat Lancashire Royals 24 – 14.
Cheshire Harvesters played their local rivals Lancashire Royals in front of a packed stand at Chester RFC on their new ASG pitch. Whilst the playing surface was perfect, the weather was awful with Lancashire kicking off in heavy rain. Cheshire started strongly and soon took the game to Lancashire which seemed to set the tone for the first half. Following a period of possession and despite the terrible conditions Cheshire moved the ball wide to allow left winger Ed Williams (Congleton) to score the first try of the game and put Cheshire 5-0 up. Cheshire continued to press with some impressive drives from the line out which functioned well all game but the Lancashire defence was equally impressive as they repelled drive after drive within 5m of their line. Eventually the line was breached with flanker James Reeve (Wirral) going over from close range. The try was converted by Ben Elliot (Sandbach) to give Cheshire a 12-0 lead. Despite further pressure from Cheshire the score remained at 12-0 until half time.
Both Teams made a few changes at half time and it was Lancashire who started the stronger putting Cheshire under some sustained pressure which resulted in a try for Hassan Sadrazam (De La Salle) converted by Kurt Gledhill (Thornton Cleveleys) to reduce the deficit to 12-7. Cheshire’s set piece, both scrum and line out continued to function well which provided the platform for young second rower Matt Dalton (Wirral) to score a try converted by Ben Elliot which restored Cheshire’s 12 point advantage at 19-7. As the game entered the final quarter Lancashire pressed for a second try which led to a yellow card for Cheshire flanker Mark Wright (Congleton) meaning Cheshire would play the last 10 minutes with 14. Then with 5 minutes to go Lancashire scored through Mark Dickinson (Tyldesley) again converted by Kurt Gledhill to set up a tense final few minutes. However Cheshire regained possession and had the final say with Ed Williams scoring his second try of the game this time wide on the right to leave the final score 24-14 in Cheshire’s favour.
The game was played in tremendous spirit, well handled by referee Ben Moore and his assistants David Bundy and Tom Lyes. Credit must go to both teams for the high standard of rugby on show despite the terrible conditions on the night. Following the game, those playing their first game for Cheshire Harvesters were presented with their county tie and hooker Stu Gratton (Wirral) was named player of the match by his fellow teammates.
Photographs by Derek Salisbury Snr