Chester 24 Rossendale 22
A LARGE crowd at Hare Lane was treated to some scintillating rugby on Saturday as Chester edged to a crucial victory in the spring sunshine.
The win moved Chester back up to second place in Division Three North – which will secure entry to the end-of-season promotion play-offs – while Rossendale’s chances of claiming runners-up spot now look remote.
It was the visitors who drew first blood on Saturday, registering an early converted try.
Both sides then exchanged penalties before Rhys Hayes tied the scores, scoring a brilliant try under the posts and adding the conversion.
A couple of penalties by regular fly-half Hayes, playing at outside centre, ensured Chester went into the half-time break with a 16-10 lead.
The second started at a terrific pace and Chester extended their lead when a turnover sent scrum-half Tom Chappell free. He wriggled clear and found wing Pete Rees, who showed great pace to run from inside his own half to score.
Hayes failed with his conversion attempt – striking the post from wide out – and Chester proceeded to implode, handing Rossendale an interception try. The conversion made it 21-17.
A Hayes penalty gave Chester a seven-point cushion but Rossendale refused to go down without a fight.
They crossed the line again for an unconverted try, reducing the gap to a nerve-jangling two points, but the hosts managed to hold on for a key win.
Chester have just two games left to play. They visit basement boys Rochdale this Saturday, before making the short trip to mid-table Birkenhead Park on Saturday, April 30.
In South Lancs/Cheshire Three, Helsby ran out 29-28 home winners over Linley. High-flying Ellesmere Port beat Liverpool Rangers 28-25.