SQUASH: CHESTER RUFC produced a superb performance to beat last season's champions Manchester Northern 3-2.
Manchester were led by Pakistan number two Shahid Zaman, nephew of the legendary Qamar Zaman, and upand-coming professional and Cheshire champion Andy Whipp, so Chester always felt they would need to perform heroically in the lower order.
And so it proved as Drewe Williams, making his home debut, battled through four tough games against Northern's Joe Edwards to put Chester on their way.
Jonathan Davies continued his excellent run of form in a highly-entertaining match with Manchester's Simon Brand. In the crucial second game, Davies won the important points, enabling him to take a 2-0 lead and a disappointed Brand folded in the third so that Chester were two up.
In a tense situation, Chester captain Jonathan Clark relished the situation and, against Pontefract professional Christian Donelan, he was always in control, despite some tough rallies, to ease through 3-0.
The packed gallery on the glass-backed court then witnessed some of the best squash seen in Chester for some considerable time. Australian women's world champion Sarah FitzGerald hit top form in taking a 2-1 lead over Whipp. She had chances to clinch the match in the fourth game, before Whipp's superior strength told in the fifth and final game when he sneaked through 3-2 to put Manchester Northern on the board.
Chester's David Campion also produced his best form of the season against Zaman to take the first game before Zaman seemed to up the pace. There were some incredible shots played by both players before Zaman took the match 3-1 to make the final score 3-2 to Chester, to a standing ovation from the gallery.
Chester travel to Liverpool for an away fixture next week, followed by two home matches against Blackpool and Hyde. Start time 7.30pm. Spectators welcome. The Dragons had one of their best results of the season when they beat Cheshire Oaks seconds 5-0.
Colin Elson got them off to a flying start to lead 9-1, 9-1 and 7-1, then faltered, still had six match balls, but lost the third game 10-9.
He then decided to get his money's worth, losing the next and going 7-4 down in the fifth, before rallying to come back to win the game 9-7, and the tie, 3-2.
No such problems for Giles Cook who steamrollered his opponent for a comprehensive 3-0 win.
Lucy Benbow's recall produced a thrilling 3-2 victory and captain Brian Meehan had an excellent 3-1 win playing at number one, against an experienced opponent who had previously battered him.
Finally, Phil Noble returned from yet another injury, lower down the order, to cruise to a comfortable victory. Dragons' second team beat Neston thirds 4-1. There were straightforward 3-0 victories for Mark Spaven, Andy Butters and Shane Morris, while the only blip on the horizon was Andy Senior running out of steam in a 3-1 defeat.
The match of the evening brought together two wily old campaigners and Dragons' Pete Nickson used his many years of experience to fashion a fine victory - 10-8 in the fifth against Mike Smith.