CHESTER were made to work hard as they beat neighbours Wirral in a Thwaites Cheshire Cup quarter-final which was a repeat of last year's final.
Chester started well and soon found themselves camped in the Wirral '22' for long periods without reward and it was Wirral who were first on the scoresheet following an interception in their own '22' where their young winger Baker ran the length of the pitch, evading three tackles, to score a try against the run of play, converted by Sean Kay.
Wounded Chester came back immediately and the impressive Paul Campbell finished off a driving maul to reduce the arrears.
Time and time again Chester were floundering in their attempt to get over the line and finished the half 7-5 down.
The Chester coaching staff made their feelings known vociferously in the team talk at half time, but Wirral extended their lead in the 45th minute with a Kay penalty to stretch their lead to five points.
It now looked like there could be an upset on the cards and this time more stern words appeared to work. Chester sprung to life and showed glimpses of class before Matt Sheen powered over for a try following a 10-metres scrum to equalise.
Chester scored a fabulous try following four phases of quickly recycled ball and then simple hands put the flying Ian Brookes in space 40 metres out. He took his chance well, rounding the winger and full-back to score near the posts. The extras were added by stand-in kicker Tom Foden to make the score 17-10.
Chester were soon knocking on the door again and up popped livewire Jason Goulding who barged his way over the line leaving several players on the floor. Foden again converted to give Chester a comfortable lead which they held to the final whistle.
The Walker Smith Way man-of-the-match was Paul Campbell for a fine display in the second row.
Chester's director of rugby Steve Dorrington said after the game that he was disappointed with the Chester performance, but pleased they had achieved the result. He added that Wirral never gave up and that they should be proud of what they achieved. nChester are back in league action tomorrow with a Cheshire derby at Altrincham Kersal, hoping to keep their North One promotion hopes alive.
Helsby 7 Northwich 17: Helsby were knocked out of the Cheshire Plate on Saturday, but gave a creditable performance against a team three leagues above them.
Northwich scored out wide in the opening minutes of the game, but that seemed to wake Helsby up and in a tight first-half defences were on top.
Helsby applied the pressure to the visitors' defence and were unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions, but they were made to pay when Northwich scored a breakaway try to increase their lead.
The visitors crossed again soon after but Helsby gave themselves hope when a good pass by Merrill freed John Williams who had the strength to hold off two defenders to score Helsby's first try, Rowlinson converting. But, despite their efforts, Helsby could not cross the line again and the visitors held on for the victory.
Helsby's Frodsham Tandoori man-of-the-match was John Williams for his strong running throughout the game.
Helsby travel to West Park for a league match tomorrow (2.30pm).