Western Counties West
Chard 10, Devonport Services 17

CHARD claimed a losing bonus point from this rearranged match, the very least they deserved after giving high-flying Devonport a real fright in a game played in terrible conditions after the referee adjudged that the pitch was just about playable, writes Glyn Hughes.

The visitors started strongly, putting the Chard forwards under some pressure in the opening five minutes, and went ahead with a penalty from fly-half Richard West.

It began to look as if Chard might have a torrid time up front but they quickly got in to their stride and dominated large periods of the first half.

Devonport were pinned back for 20 minutes and it is a mystery as to how Chard did not get on the scoresheet, as the visitors gave away penalty after penalty as well as having a member of their front row sent to the bin.

An immediate injury to their other prop resulted in uncontested scrums, which did not help Chard, and the referee must have been close to awarding Chard a penalty try several times.

Survive the visitors did, however, and half time arrived with Devonport somehow holding on to their 3-0 lead.

The visitors started the second half well and, five minutes in, broke clear for centre Jack Evans to go over, the try being converted by West.

Chard’s tackling had up to this point been fantastic, but it let them down briefly and Devonport sneaked over for another try scored by Andy Pond, again converted by West.

The hosts were now 17-0 down having dominated much of the game, but they rallied and, 20 minutes into the half after sustained pressure on the line, they broke through with Scott Johnson getting the unconverted try.

A second unconverted try soon followed from Max Gosden, putting his side within one converted try of a draw.

Devonport were now really under the cosh but again they just about managed to survive a final onslaught.

The losing bonus point might well prove crucial, but the crowd and the visitors knew Chard were unfortunate not to get the win, as this was a terrific performance.

It was good to see Ben Stead back in the team and special mention goes to Ross Colenso, a fine young utility three-quarter who moved into the number nine position from the wing.

The forwards were all excellent but the pick of the bunch was prop Dave Biss, voted as man of the match.

This Saturday Chard travel to Cornwall for another tough fixture against St Austell.

Chard 2nd XV host Yeovil 2nds (2.30pm) and Chard 3rds are without a game, but a combined Chard & Crewkerne Veterans team will go to Portland Prison to play the Young Offenders.