CHESTER roared out of the blocks in Saturday’s big National League Division Three (North) clash – but it proved a false dawn as they lost a lacklustre game to table-topping Morley.
The return of tight-head James Whitlock-Wainwright solved the scrummaging problems the Hare Lane side had suffered in the defeat to Middlesbrough seven days earlier. Morley stood firm, however, and a couple of try-saving tackles kept their hosts at bay.
Chester played some impressive rugby in the opening period that defied the tough conditions. But after failing to register a score, Tim Doig’s men resorted to a kicking game, enabling the visitors to counter attack with greater ease.
Chester then committed a number of handling errors when threatening to cross the Morley tryline and things went from bad to worse when James Farrell and Gareth Coy were sent to the sin bin within three minutes of each other.
Down to 13 men, Chester defended valiantly, but Morley took advantage of their numerical supremacy to take a six-point lead into the break with a brace of well-struck penalties.
The spectacle did not improve after the restart, but the hosts did manage to halve the deficit midway through the second half with a fine Rhys Hayes penalty, and they might even had gone in front had Farrell been able to hold on to the ball after an excellent break by Ben Williams.
But with 10 minutes to go, Chester found themselves reduced to 14 men when replacement Joe Sproston committed an illegal tackle, allowing Morley to kill the contest with their third successful penalty.
There was the consolation of a bonus point for sixth-placed Chester, who head to seventh-placed Penrith on Saturday.