Return to form for Holmes Chapel
After losing at Capenhurst the previous week, it was crucial to register a win and keep the pressure on other teams near the top of the league. Darren Saffill was back in the starting line-up, with Wayne Scott making his full 1st XV debut at hooker. The visitors had brought a large amount of support with them and fancied their chances of an upset after showing some good form in the league this season.
The home side dominated the opening forward exchanges, particularly in the scrum, and this allowed Andy Fyffe the time and space to send long kicks downfield to establish territorial advantage. Poor weather conditions meant that trying to run the ball from distance was extremely difficult so Chapel relied on Fyffe’s boot and looked to put pressure on the Congleton lineout.
The first points of the game were scored when the home side were awarded a 5 metre scrum near the opposition try line. The pack began to drive forward with Mike Cottam controlling the ball at the base, but Congleton collapsed the scrum before the try could be scored leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty try. Doug Canavan’s conversion from in front of the posts made it 7-0 to Chapel. The lead was extended when the backs ran a simple but effective move to beat the Congleton defence.
Matt Bowden took the ball up and popped it to Lee Cagna who had made a great angled run off Bowden’s shoulder to break through the line. He had enough pace to round the full-back and dive over for the try. This time the conversion was unsuccessful, but Chapel had built a healthy 12-0 lead. The visitors began to get into the game after this score, helped by a few penalties that allowed them to move into Chapel’s half.
Despite their possession, Congleton were unable to create any chances and as the half drew to a close, it looked like Chapel would maintain their lead until the interval. However, in injury time Chapel lost a lineout in Congleton’s half and the ball was hacked forward, eventually leading to a scrum for the visitors. From this position they launched an attack, which resulted in a converted try to reduce Chapel’s half time lead to 12-7.
Chapel started the second period well and were keen to hit back straight away with another score. Congleton were being forced to concede penalties but were just about keeping the home side at bay, until Captain Ed Meyrick took a quick tap and passed to Paul Watson who bulldozed his way over the line. Canavan added the 2 points, but at 19-7 the match could still have gone either way.
Chapel continued to press forward and from another attack they earned a penalty in front of the posts. Canavan made no mistake and gave the hosts some breathing space with a 15 point lead. The final quarter of the game descended into a series of scrums and untidy rucks, with tempers fraying on both sides as the ball rarely moved beyond either side’s 10 metre line. Congleton did launch one promising attack but the Chapel pack forced a turnover near the line and the danger was cleared. Aside from a few bouts of “handbags” there was little further incident as Chapel saw out the match for a comfortable victory.
While this was hardly a vintage performance, Chapel’s priority was to record the victory against potentially difficult opposition. The conditions also made things tough for both sides, with the greasy ball making handling errors a common occurrence throughout the game. Overall, it was a good afternoon’s work for the home side, and they remain in a strong position in South Lancashire / Cheshire 3.
Holmes Chapel 22 – 7 Congleton
The 2nd XV recorded their sixth win a row by defeating Whitchurch 4th XV 39-0 at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre. This win keeps them amongst the promotion challengers in the Miller Homes League Division 5 South.
This Saturday, Chapel travel to Chorley in the RFU Knockout Cup. It will be unknown territory for Chapel as the visitors play in the North Lancashire leagues, and both teams will no doubt be looking for a strong cup run this season. There is no 2nd XV match so Chapel will be hoping to take strong support on the coach trip north.
Holmes Chapel RUFC would like to thank Wymans Ltd and Hopewiser Ltd for their continued support.