Chapel bows to territorial pressure.
Marple 40 – 20 Holmes Chapel
Holmes Chapel 1st XV travelled to Marple last Saturday hoping to complete the double over the home side following a hard fought victory earlier in the season. They knew it would be a tough task as Marple, promoted back into the league this season, were only one place behind Chapel before the game and have some talented attacking players. Chapel experienced a severe prop shortage in the build-up to the match and were grateful for 2nd row Mark Mcenaney and flanker Mark Concar for stepping up to the challenge and taking on the Marple front row.
Chapel began the game with the wind behind them; however it was the home side who took the lead with a penalty, after a good period of play straight from the kick-off. This score was quickly wiped out when Doug Canavan kicked a penalty in front of the posts to level the score at 3-3. Marple soon regained the lead however, when they worked an overlap from a quickly taken penalty and scored in the corner (conversion missed). Chapel narrowed the gap with another Canavan penalty and the game continued to flow from end to end. Although the scrum was under pressure, the Chapel pack didn’t let their heads drop and were managing to win enough possession to stay in the game. A break from Ed Meyrick and good support play from Mike Cottam created a try for Paddy Kennedy, who held off two defenders to score. Canavan added the conversion to put Chapel ahead 13-8. Another penalty from Marple narrowed the deficit but Chapel extended the lead with another Kennedy try. A great effort from the front row saw them steal a ball against the head in a scrum. This allowed Chapel to break quickly and Kennedy again showed good strength to break a tackle and score beneath the posts. Canavan added the simple conversion to make the score 20-11. Chapel were desperate to hang on to this advantage until half time, but sustained pressure from Marple allowed them the opportunity to hit back. Eventually, their Number 8 drove over the line from the base of a 5 metre scrum and although the conversion was missed, the lead had been cut to 4 points.
In the second half, Marple took advantage of the strong wind and most of the early play was in the Chapel half. Despite the territorial pressure, the Chapel defence was comfortably dealing with Marple attacks and the visitors remained confident of staying in front. Frustratingly for Chapel, when Marple did score it was due to a series of errors, as the ball was allowed to bounce around the 22, and eventually was touched down over the line for a try. This score inspired the home side and they were able to extend the lead with another try, following good running from their dangerous centre partnership. With the score at 30-20, Chapel began to raise their game and had several chances to narrow the gap. The line-out was working well but they were unable to find the cutting edge required to score
another try. Shortly before the end of the game, the Marple Number 8 was able to score a similar try to his first and the game was killed off as a contest. A final penalty in the last minute extended the winning margin for the home side.
Chapel are scheduled to take on Eagle at Station Road in the next game on Saturday. They will be looking for similar levels of determination and spirit, but combined with fewer mistakes to ensure they defeat the Warrington side. The 2nd XV performed admirably in defeat at Heaton Moor. Having travelled with only 13 men, they fought hard for the entire 80 minutes, eventually going down 34-15 with 2 tries from Rob O’Hare and Tom Emerson scoring his first for the club.