Morley 18 Chester 6
INJURIES and illness took their toll on the Chester squad on Saturday, with a very youthful team slipping to defeat at Morley.
Captain Sean Green had been unable to recover from a bad tackle in the previous week’s match and vice-captain Andy Moore persevered in defence despite being too ill to train properly only a couple of days before the game.
Despite the setbacks, Chester, who started with seven players aged under 20, began brightly.
However, Morley took the lead with a penalty when Liam Lawton was sent to the bin for offside, following a succession of penalties. Morley then made it 6-0 in similar circumstances, the victim this time being Rhys Hayes.
After a stern half-time talk by coach Dave Craven, Chester levelled within 10 minutes thanks to two Simon Verbickas penalties.
However, as Chester started to crank up the pressure, Morley took advantage of minor errors to produce two breakaway tries and seal the game.
Despite the loss, which realistically ended Chester’s hopes of finishing in the top two of National Three North, Chester director of rugby Tim Doig was positive about the depleted squad’s performance.
He said: “It was a good performance, all things considered. Andy was struggling after illness all week and we lost two or three other players. It was a very young team and the performance bodes well for the future.
“I’ve told the lads to enjoy the remaining games – we’re safe from relegation and we aren’t going to be in the top two, so the pressure’s off and we can relax and enjoy ourselves.
“We are certainly good enough to finish in the top two, but you could point out games we lost this season where we made two or three little errors which cost us.”
Chester take on third-placed Penrith at home on Saturday. Admission is free to Chester City fans.
Former Chester player Ben Foden has been named on the bench for England’s Six Nations showdown with Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday (5pm).
In the Miller Homes Division Four West, Christleton went down 50-3 at Merseyside Police on Saturday. They will be hoping for better when they host Widnes 3rds this Saturday.