Luctonians 13 Chester 10
CHESTER pushed the Midlands One leaders all the way on Saturday before being condemned to defeat by a last-gasp penalty.
The nerves were jangling for both sets of players as the score was tied at 10-10 with only minutes to go.
It was Chester who buckled as they were punished for holding onto the ball following a line-out – allowing Luctonians fly-half Andy Garrod to snatch victory with a penalty.
Chester had travelled to Herefordshire with a slightly depleted squad, Gareth Martin and Johnny Beckwith out injured, replaced by Dave Legat and the evergreen Gareth Sanger. Jack Bromley was also unavailable, paving the way for Ed Chantler to come in on the wing.
The new boys led the way in the early skirmishes, with Chester showing a lot more passion and physicality than in previous games.
Luctonians held their nerve and started to put Chester under some sustained pressure towards the end of the first quarter. When Sanger received a yellow card after being caught offside at a ruck, the hosts scored the penalty to take the lead.
It stayed 3-0 until half time but Chester emerged for the second half with renewed vigour having brought on specialist hooker Gareth Evans.
With Evans leading from the front, Chester went on the front foot, pinning Luctonians in their own half for long periods. However, the only reward was a penalty converted by Tom Foden to make it 3-3.
Luctonians regained the lead when Cameron Hewitt crashed over underneath the posts, allowing Garrod to make the conversion.
With time running out, Chester decided to throw on the two untested substitutes, Andy Moore and Gaz Coy. The move paid dividends only minutes later as Chester scored through Foden, who levelled the match at 10-10 after converting his own try.
But the visitors were hit by the late blow of Garrod’s match-winning penalty as they slipped to their third defeat in four Midlands One fixtures.
Chester return to Hare Lane tomorrow to host Peterborough (3pm). They then go to neutral Birkenhead Park on Tuesday to face New Brighton in the quarter-finals of the Cheshire Cup (8pm).