Chester returned to winning ways in National League 2 North on Saturday with a hard-fought but well-deserved 31-15 triumph over Luctonians.
It was the Hare Lane outfit’s second successive home success and ensured they responded in the right manner to the 31-16 loss at Otley.
However, the outcome remained in doubt until late on and at times it seemed as if the Luctonians pack would grind out a victory with their powerful scrum and driving maul.
It spoke volumes, then, for Chester’s defensive resilience that they were able to limit the damage on the scoreboard and eventually to pull away and win decisively.
The hosts could not have asked for a better start.
With four minutes on the clock a loose Luctonians kick was run back by centre Freeman Payne.
Payne spotted a big gap behind the defensive line and, with a fine piece of individual skill, he chipped the ball into space and recovered it before sending right-winger Matt Crow over for a try that was converted by Liam McGovern.
Chester’s lead was short lived as Luctonians replied with a converted try of their own, following a fine break by their outside centre Frank Kelly, who was to prove a threat all afternoon.
That was the way it stayed until the 40th minute when Sean Green ran back another poor kick from the visitors.
Forwards and backs carried the movement on through nine phases before quick ruck ball was used to put Andy Baston over for the try, which was again converted by McGovern.
Having taken a somewhat unlikely lead into half-time, Chester pressed home their advantage early in the second half.
Yet another loose kick led to Crow, now appearing on the left wing, to cross in the corner.
McGovern, in some style, added the extras to put Chester 21-7 in front.
In response Luctonians tried to resume normal service, mauling every attacking lineout, and in the 54th minute that yielded a penalty that was kicked close to the posts.
An unconverted try followed and going into the final 15 minutes there were just six points between the sides.
However, the game was beginning to open up and Chester’s fitness showed.
In the 75th minute a penalty from Callum Bennett, McGovern’s replacement at fly-half, stretched the advantage.
And, with the last play of the match, good play from Tom Foden led to Bennett touching down for a try that he duly converted.
Tenth-placed Chester head to table-topping Stourbridge this Saturday (3pm).
Christleton travel to Prenton on the back of a 59-7 home loss to Liverpool University.
Helsby will look to bounce back from their 36-12 home defeat to Wirral 3rds away to Didsbury 3rds.
Meanwhile, Chester 2nds romped to 95-7 victory at Fylde 2nds, the 3rds drew 19-19 at New Brighton 2nds, while the senior colts were convincing 62-19 home winners over Bowden.
Chester Devas Ladies lost 25-10 at Altrincham Kersal.