Chester make it three wins in a row

Stockport set up a scrum in their own half against Chester
Stockport set up a scrum in their own half against Chester
©Chris Heal

Chester secured their third win in a row as they eventually eased to a 41-5 victory over Stockport at Hare Lane in National League 2 North.

Jamie Anthony opened the scoring for Stockport in a first half which his side controlled, but a yellow card 10 minutes before the break for Port, allowed Michael Craven and David Ford to go over to give the hosts a half-time lead.

From there, Chester didn’t look back. William Goodwin crossed over, Ford added his second and tries from John Ketland, Rhys Hayes and Max Himbury secured the victory.

For Stockport, this game was typical of their season so far. Once again they were excellent for the first 40 minutes, but fell away in the second half which has happened on a number of occasions this season.

After the game, Coach Matthew Bebbington said: "It was a good first half and we looked in control, but it was a poor second half.

"It’s obviously a repeat of a number of other games this year, but it’s not because of our size, physicality or fitness; its rugby intelligence.

"It’s not kicking the ball off the park in the 22. Our first ruck from kick return was abysmal today and we didn’t get quick ball.

"We also gave easy territory away. If any team are in your 22 for a prolonged period of time you’re going to get penalties against you or tries and that was down to a lack of patience in defence.

"The good thing now is that we have got competition for places in the side, but I have just said to the players, regardless of whether you have been here for five months or 15 years, I will pick the team that I think will do the job.

"The biggest thing in training now is it is competitive. We have 30-35 players down and we play at match intensity and I let the players control the intensity. Maybe something needs to spark off in training; maybe it needs a ‘ding-dong’ between players to spark it off, but at the moment it’s down to rugby intelligence."

Stockport continued to follow their own trend of performing extremely well in the first half as they dominated the early exchanges in this encounter.

Winger Elliot Fletcher made some good early breaks, but it was Anthony, playing at centre, who broke down the solid Chester defence on 15 minutes as he forced his way over after excellent build up play by Ashley Platt-Hughes and Chris Tennuci.

Port were keeping the ball well and they then matched that with some excellent defensive play across the pitch. They didn’t allow Chester any room or time on the ball and forced the hosts into making mistakes.

Stockport continued to defend valiantly, but at the same time they were conceding a number of penalties and they were eventually penalised for it as Ben Marsland was the unfortunate culprit to be sin binned 10 minutes before half time.

From the resulting penalty, Chester got their first points on the board as Craven went over in the corner after a catch and drive from the lineout.

They followed that up on the stroke of half time and took advantage of their extra man. The ball was switched in a frantic fashion from right to left and Ford scored Chester’s second try. Goodwin converted to give Chester a 12-5 lead at half-time.

Chester had scored from their only two real opportunities in that first half and that seemed to spark them into life after the restart as they piled the pressure on Stockport who were still showing a strong defence.

The hosts had a number of chances to score, but they were producing unforced errors which were letting Stockport off the hook.

The game was confined to the Stockport half and even when Port managed to clear their lines, they just weren’t affective enough at the breakdowns and ultimately they cracked under the Chester pressure.  

On 56 minutes Goodwin saw an opening in the Stockport defence and skated through the gap to score and convert the try, while Ford grabbed his second of the afternoon five minutes later as Chester capitalised on the poor Stockport kick return.

Stockport looked out on their feet and yet again their effort on the day cannot be questioned. When they did finally advance towards the Chester try line they were left frustrated and even more so when the referee couldn’t justify the yellow card which Anthony was shown on 66 minutes for a slightly late tackle.  

Chester then scored twice more during Anthony’s absence with Ketland arguably scoring the pick of tries as he rounded off a fine move after superb hands by Hayes and winger Sean Green. Hayes then showed a great turn of pace to score himself five minutes later. Goodwin slotted the conversion.

Replacement Max Himbury finished off proceedings using his acceleration to comfortably score in the final minute and condemn Stockport to another miserable second half performance.

Stockport host Harrogate at Headlands Road next Saturday. Kick-off 2.15pm.

Chester: Foden; Ross, Hayes, Gray, Sean Green; Goodwin, Walsh; Ford, Craven, Wishnowsky; White, Gregory (capt), Bevan, Moore, Woods,

Replacements: Whitelock-Wainwright, Bown, Joseph, Ketland, Himbury

Tries: Craven, Ford (2), Goodwin, Ketland, Hayes, Himbury
Cons: Goodwin (3)

Stockport: J Edwards; Fletcher, Platt-Hughes, J Anthony, Tennuci; Smith, Street; K Hibbs, Baldwin, Marsland; C Hibbs, Roddy (capt); Gill, Millea, C Anthony.

Replacements: Longmore, Graham, Idehen, Simon Green, Hall

Try: J Anthony

National League Rugby