Birkenhead Park 17 Chester 16
CHESTER were 16-0 up and seemingly cruising to victory at Upper Park on Saturday – then they reached for the self-destruct button.
A disastrous final 20 minutes saw Birkenhead Park put 17 unanswered points on the board to win the match, condemning Chester to their third defeat in four league games.
Director of rugby Tim Doig was left to rue some questionable calls from the officials and poor decision-making by his own players.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Doig. “We’ve got a talented group of players but they lack experience in how to close games down. We need to be more street-wise.”
The visitors took the lead in the eighth minute with a well-taken penalty by Lloyd Hayes.
Another Hayes penalty on 20 minutes made it 6-0, before the same player broke through Birkenhead’s defensive wall to score near the posts, making his conversion an easy one.
Leading 13-0 at the half-time break, Chester stretched their lead to 16-0 when Hayes kicked a 48th-minute penalty.
But then Birkenhead began to fight back. They got back into the game with a (converted) penalty try and then, much to Chester’s annoyance, proceeded to be awarded a string of penalties by the referee.
As the pressure built, Birkenhead made it 16-14 with another converted try.
With only minutes left on the clock, another penalty allowed Park to go 17-16 up. Chester came roaring back and forced themselves to within two meters of the try-line, but they lacked enough control to grab the final score.
Chester host mid-table Waterloo this Saturday (2.15pm).
Chester 2nds lost 32-17 to Birkenhead Park 2nds in the Raging Bull Cup.