Chester brought the curtain down on their debut season in the National League Two North with a narrow defeat in the Midlands on Saturday.
Already assured of fifth place in what has been an impressive season for Nic Corrigan’s men, Chester were edged out at Portway in front of a 500-strong crowd in a fiercely competitive encounter in wet and windy conditions.
It was a case of defences on top for much of the 80 minutes, with the home defence denying David Ford’s strong run early on.
Tom Foden was forced off injured for the visitors during the attack, with the home side crossing for an unconverted try through their number eight Steve Leach on nine minutes.
With Gavin Woods in the thick of proceedings for Chester, both sides held firm until the visitors reduced the deficit to 5-3 thanks to a James Mitchell penalty.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Chester beginning the stronger.
The visitor’s pressure told early on when a Mitchell penalty pushed them into a 6-5 lead, with Corrigan’s men pinning the home side in their own 22 in the driving rain.
Mitchell attempted three further penalties, making one, to stretch Chester’s advantage to four points at 9-5.
However, despite their pressure, the visitors couldn’t close out the contest and claim the victory as their hosts regrouped, aided by the introduction of some fresh legs from the bench, and crossed the whitewash through Matt Spink for a match-winning 10-9 advantage. But Adam Canning was unable to add the extras.
Chester, despite much toil, were unable to breach the staunch Birmingham Solihull rearguard in the final 15 minutes.
“We were playing with a makeshift squad in very difficult conditions and I think it was a case of recent games taking their toll on us,” said Corrigan.
“It was a game which we still expected to win, so to have lost is disappointing but we have had an excellent season and made huge strides both on and off the field.
“Huge credit must go to the volunteers who have worked so tirelessly for the club throughout the season and helped us massively as a club to progress.”
Corrigan revealed he will now take time to evaluate his playing staff for next season and declared that targets would be higher next time around.
“The benchmark will be raised again for next season as we are a progressive club that is wanting to build on success, not stand still,” he added.
“We have identified areas of the squad we need to improve and the players required to improve it and will be announcing our squad for next season on August 12.”
Chester 2nds fell to a 32-26 defeat at Sanbach 2nds in the BMW Bateman Conference B.
Christleton fell to a heavy 104-21 defeat at Wilmslow 3rds in Division Three South.
Chester RUFC have made a significant signing off the field after announcing that car dealership Halliwell Jones BMW have joined the club as Official Vehicle Partner from May 2015, in a two-year-agreement.
The deal will see Halliwell Jones invest at various levels within the club through an integrated partnership to become not only the official vehicle partner but also title sponsors of Chester 2020, a performance focused development programme for players and coaches.
Corrigan said: “Putting in place the right player development programmes is critical if we are to make Chester RUFC as successful as it can be, not just in 2015 but beyond.”