Chester 34 Newport 6
HEAD coach Rob Foden hailed his Chester players after they swept their way into a national final on Saturday – securing the club’s first ever trip to Twickenham.
Chester outplayed Midlands One outfit Newport to book a visit to rugby HQ for the EDF Intermediate Cup final on Saturday, April 12. It will be an all-north west affair as their opponents will be Birkenhead Park, conquerors of Bracknell in the weekend’s other semi-final.
Foden, who will be the first man to lead a Chester team out at Twickenham in the club’s 80-year history, was thrilled to see his players turn in such an accomplished performance at a packed Hare Lane.
He said: “The players responded so well to the work we had done in training all week. They were awesome.
“For them, it will be a wonderful occasion to play at Twickenham. But for me as a coach, I know we haven’t won anything yet.
“It’s easy to be distracted by the fact we’re going to Twickenham, but I can’t allow that because we are also going for promotion.”
Foden has experienced the unique Twickenham atmosphere before – although the majority of his previous visits to the home of rugby have been to watch his son Ben, who plays for Sale Sharks.
His other son, Tom, plays for Chester and the talented fly-half scored 14 of his team’s 34 points against Newport.
The visitors were cheered on by several coach-loads of travelling fans, swelling the attendance to an estimated 1,000-plus.
There were loud cheers as Newport put the first points on the board with an early penalty, but Chester hit back in style in the 10th minute.
The ball was stripped from the Newport forwards and thrown out to Foden, who raced half the length of the pitch to score under the posts, making his conversion a formality.
Chester began to warm to their task and their back row threesome of man of the match Andy Moore, Gareth Martin and David Legat were tireless in hunting down the Newport ball carriers.
The hosts finally got the second try their good play deserved in the final minutes of the half.
It came from an excellent piece of opportunism from scrum-half James Farrell, who took the ball from the back of a maul and sprinted down the undefended blind-side to score. Foden missed the tricky conversion from out wide, meaning Chester went in 12-5 up at half-time.
Within two minutes of the restart, the hosts scored their third try of the game to put real daylight between the sides.
Foden embarked on a swashbuckling run upfield and passed the ball to leading try-scorer Matt Sheen, who did the rest.
Foden added the extras before Newport reduced the deficit to 19-6 with another penalty.
Chester reasserted their dominance in the 57th minute with a try by replacement Simon Love, although Foden missed the conversion.
A Foden penalty in the 67th minute took the score to 27-6 before a fine – and fully-deserved – win was rounded off in the final minute when Sheen ran half the length of the pitch to score.
The final whistle sounded as Foden’s conversion went through the posts – sparking an evening of celebration.
Chester are without a fixture this weekend, but they return to action with an important North Two West meeting with Sandbach at Hare Lane a week tomorrow.
Christleton struggled against a heavier Ashton-on-Mersey pack on Saturday, going down 36-0.
The hosts were often camped in the opposition half but were unable to capitalise on possession.
Christleton’s chances were not helped by an injury to fullback Dave Bluff in the pre-match warm-up. Further disruption was caused by head injuries to Ed Steele and Tim Joinson.
Christleton are at Leigh tomorrow.