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South West Division One: North Dorset 12pts, Chard 41
9:32am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Sport
CHARD have not played North Dorset at 1st XV level since the introduction of league rugby so it was great to renew links with them again, writes Glyn Hughes.
Their committee and supporters made the sizeable number of Chard fans very welcome.
Chard were without the services of skipper Mark Parsons but Jim Wagstaff made a welcome return as they went into the game looking for their first away victory of the season.
On a nice playing surface Chard took a very early lead when centre Neil Douglas broke through the gain line and set up an opportunity for full back Ben Stead who went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Chard were certainly well on top in the opening exchanges and after the home side had missed a relatively straight forward penalty attempt flyhalf Chris Doak was instrumental in doubling Chards lead when he lofted a perfectly judged high kick out to the left wing.
Full-back Stead who would go on to score four tries sped through to take the ball on the full to race over for another unconverted try.
Chard looked well on top at this stage but they messed up several scoring chances with some unusually poor handling. North Dorset made them pay when a fine counter attack up field brushed past several despairing tackles and ended with open side flanker Charlie Joblin scoring in the corner.
Robbie Sampson converted and Chard found themselves with only a slender three point advantage.
The game then became quite scrappy for some time with both sides making a lot of errors.
Chard also lost the services of centre Lee Massey through injury and he was replaced by Charlie Roberts making his 1st XV debut.
Chard always looked the better side however and in the last five minutes of the half scored two more unconverted tries. Some good work by the forwards set up Stead for his third try and right on the interval flanker Jason Wright who would later be named man of the match stole the ball when he tackled his opposite number and went over for the fourth and bonus point try. Within a minute of the second half starting the game looked to be over for the hosts when Stead broke through their defences again with a strong run and off loaded to Wagstaff who went over for try number five. Paul Nicholls, who by his own standards had had an off day with the boot added the extras and within minutes was successful again when the unstoppable Stead tore through for his fourth try of the game.
North Dorset kept plugging away and after a period of sustained pressure close to the Chard line they quickly changed the direction of play to score their second try through winger Jon Hooper. In the final moments of the match Wagstaff picked up at the back of a set piece to score Chard’s seventh try. Chris Doak took over the kicking duties as Nicholls was resting in the sin bin and slotted over the conversion from the touchline.
A good win for Chard who next weekend are at home to league leaders North Petherton kick off 3pm. A big crowd is expected so spectators are asked to arrive as early as possible and to remember that as parking space is likely to be very limited to either walk or park elsewhere.