Chester got the new year up and running on Saturday with a 22-19 home win over Otley.
But, given their domination of the first half, there was disappointment they did not do it in style.
Chester raced into a 22-0 lead thanks to tries from Kyle Joseph, Alick Croft and Guy Ford.
But, after conceding on the stroke of half-time, they were made to cling on bravely for a narrow but ultimately deserved victory.
The scoring was opened early on after a penalty allowed Chester to set up a line-out 10m from the Otley line.
The ball was eventually moved back to the right where Joseph crossed for a try converted by James Robins.
Almost immediately a scrum penalty allowed Otley to try the same trick.
But a Chester penalty, won under their own posts, allowed them to relieve the pressure.
A sustained period of pressure at the other end followed and, with the home pack putting together a series of well constructed mauls from line-outs covering 15 or 20m, it eventually told.
Croft touched down after the pack carried the ball into contact three times and Robins added the extras to make it 14-0.
Chester continued to dominate territory and possession and were rewarded on the half-hour mark when the forwards showed excellent control to carry the ball through 10 phases before Ford scored in the corner.
Robins missed the difficult conversion attempt before making amends with a penalty under the posts.
But, at 22-0 up, the tide turned after a quick penalty led to a try for Henry Roberts, which Joe Rowntree converted.
Chester started the second half brightly, just like they had done in the first, and James Preston was unable to cap his wonderful break by finding Sean Green.
But, with belief restored, Otley’s scrum began to control proceedings and, after winning three successive penalties, they scored their second converted try of the game to reduce the deficit to eight points.
And, with the hosts visibly tiring, that deficit was cut to just three points late on when wing forward Tom O’Donnell went over.
But Chester held on for a win which means they remain 10th in the National League 2 North standings going into this Saturday’s trip to 14th-placed Luctonians (2.15pm).
Helsby, meanwhile, started 2018 as they finished 2017.
The Chester Road outfit took over top spot before Christmas with victory at Carrington.
And they remain at the summit of North West League Division Three South after they kicked off the new year with a 57-19 home win over struggling Village Spartans on Saturday.
The Spartans rallied in the second half after conceding 35 points without reply in a one-sided first half.
But Helsby were simply too good for their opponents and they hit back to run out comfortable winners.
Meanwhile, basement boys Christleton went down to a 44-19 home defeat to Mossley Hill in Lancs/Cheshire Division Three South.
But Ellesmere Port maintained their firm grip on pole position with a 22-0 home victory over Birchfield.