Chapel seize second victory from Helsby
Holmes Chapel 1st XV beat Helsby for the second successive weekend to make it 4 wins out of 4 in the Cheshire Plate qualifying stage, with veteran full-back Doug Canavan scoring all the home side’s points. It was the third time Chapel had defeated Helsby this season, however it was by far the toughest game of the 3, with Helsby right in the match until the final quarter. Chapel knew it wouldn’t be an easy contest after the visitors had put in a strong second half performance the previous week, and weren’t taking their opposition lightly as they looked to secure a place in the semi-finals of the competition.
Helsby began the better of the 2 sides and put the first points on the board after only a few minutes when their outside half scampered over the line to score an unconverted try. Chapel responded well to this early setback and soon won a penalty, which Canavan put over to start his scoring spree for the afternoon. Soon afterwards the home side took the lead when Helsby again conceded a penalty when under pressure, and Canavan made no mistake to give Chapel a 6-5 lead. Determined to press home their advantage, Chapel continued to attack at every opportunity, and forced a succession of penalties for offside, which gave them the chance to and run the ball, knowing they could come back for the simple kick at goal if necessary.
Eventually, their positive rugby paid off with the ball going through several pairs of hands before Canavan finished off the move in the corner. The conversion attempt narrowly failed, keeping the score at 11-5. Helsby had proved the week earlier that they never give up, and this game was no different. With Helsby in Chapel territory, Dan Martin was sin-binned for handling in a ruck, slightly unluckily after a string of penalties conceded by Helsby players had resulted in no similar action.
The visitors had a great chance when they won a 5-metre scrum with their own put-in. Chapel had to reshuffle the pack in Martin’s absence, and Rob Moore came in off the wing to pack down at flanker to help stop the drive. A great effort from the home forwards prevented their opponents gaining any momentum and the danger was cleared. However, shortly before the interval Helsby managed to narrow the deficit with a well-struck penalty, and had another penalty attempt fall short making the half time score a tense 11-8.
The next 20 minutes saw Helsby really take the fight to Chapel and they put a great deal of pressure on the home side as they looked to go into the lead. Although the Chapel scrum was becoming stronger and stealing most of the opposition ball, the Helsby lineout was performing well and allowing them to set up some dangerous rolling mauls. The visiting forwards did cross the try line, but Chapel were able to prevent the ball being grounded to frustrate Helsby once more.
Helsby had a great chance to level the scores with a penalty in front of the posts, but the kick was sent wide and the opportunity wasted. The introduction of Mike Cottam for the final quarter gave Chapel fresh legs and an extra attacking threat from the base of the scrum. Helsby were starting to tire, and when the home side were awarded a penalty from long-range, Canavan sent over a magnificent kick to extend the lead to 14-8.
Chapel went in search of the killer blow, and very nearly drove a maul over the Helsby line but were just stopped short. Despite this, the Helsby backs were penalised for offside and Canavan knocked over the simple chance to put the home side 2 scores clear at 17-8. With Chapel now in the ascendancy, and cheered on by the 2nd XV who had returned from their early kick-off at Sandbach, they scored a great try to add some gloss to the score-line. Jim Bowbeer won the ball at the back of a lineout and drove into the Helsby half.
He offloaded to Cottam who burst through one tackle before being brought down by scrambling defence. The Chapel forwards quickly recycled possession and the ball was fed to the backs, who took their opportunity, sending Canavan over the line for his second try. He sealed a man-of-the-match performance by slotting the conversion and bringing the final score to 24-8.
This result leaves Chapel almost certain to qualify for the semi-finals of the Cheshire Plate, and continues their impressive cup form so far this season with the 4 wins in this competition adding to the victory at Chorley in the RFU National Plate.
Next week sees a huge game at Station Road, when Linley will be the visitors for a crunch match. Linley have only been beaten once this season, and Chapel will need to be at their best to ensure they achieve the right result. Kick off will be at 2-15pm and all spectators are welcome.
Holmes Chapel 24 – 8 Helsby
Holmes Chapel RUFC would like to thank Wymans Ltd and Hopewiser Ltd for their continued support.
Holmes Chapel – 2nd XV
Holmes Chapel 2nd team made the short journey to local rivals Sandbach on Saturday looking to bounce from a disappointing result against Ashton on Mersey last week.
The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start, after kicking off Sandbach ran the ball up field where due to great work by captain Gary Cottam at the break down Chapel managed to turn the ball over. The Chapel forwards then rumbled the ball up field leading to second row Darren Saffill powering over for an unconverted try. Chapel were 5-0 up within minutes.
Chapel then increased their lead virtually straight away, with strong running by wing Chris Lloyd he was able score in the corner, converted by hooker Dwayne Potts to make it 12-0.
Unfortunately there was bad news for Chapel when Paul Brennan who was making his long awaited return to rugby after a serious injury lay off was forced off in the early going, this saw Mitch Lawrence enter the action at outside centre.
The home side started to get into the game more but Chapels strong defence was able to keep them at bay.
The 3rd try came from a great display of turning defence into attack, the Sandbach fly half had kicked the ball up field which was collected by full back Chris Jones inside his own 22, following a burst up the pitch was tackled around the half way line where the ball was shipped out to Lloyd on the wing who was able to gain more yards with Potts picking the ball up and the ruck and getting over the whitewash to make the score, converted by Joe Maddock to make the score 19-0.
Potts then made the next score, after throwing the ball in at a lineout inside the Sandbach 22 he took a quick ball off the top and after dodging the tackles dived over the line for his 2nd try of the day to increase the score the 24-0.
Towards the end of the 1st half Chapel suffered from a bout of indiscipline leading to a number of penalties and after giving away one away in front of the posts Sandbach made the half time score 24-3 to the visitors.
Chapel came out from the restart strongly with plenty of possession thanks to a strong display by the forwards giving the half backs Matt Griffiths and Maddock a solid platform to work from. Following a number of pick and goes by the forwards Saffill once again forced his way over the try line, converted by Maddock, 31-3 to Chapel.
Chapel continued to dominate with good lines being run by the centre partnership of Steve Oliver and Mitch Lawrence.
Chapel got their final points of the day in a similar fashion to their previous try with Alan Goodwin getting himself over for the try to take the score to 36-3.
Sandbach had a late flurry but the Chapel defence managed to weather the storm to ensure their try line hadn’t been crossed.
All in all it was a brilliant team effort, with dominance being showed by the forwards and some superb running by the backs.
Holmes Chapel 2nds travel to Bowden next week and will be hoping to put in another fine performance.
Sandbach 4th XV 3 Holmes Chapel 2nd XV 36