Chester RUFC fell to a 39-22 defeat at Harrogate in the proverbial game of two halves in National League Two North.
The visitors held a 14-3 advantage at half-time but the hosts become more accurate in the second period and finished on top with a 17 point cushion at Rudding Lane.
Chester did not start well, losing a scrum and a lineout, and conceding three penalties inside 10 minutes but managed to restrict Harrogate to a single penalty and a 3-0 lead.
The visitors eventually managed to get a toehold and when Callum Bennett's long kick was knocked on, the resultant scrum led to two quick penalties and a lineout that ended in the forwards driving over for a converted try.
A combination of Harrogate handling errors and excellent Chester defence saw the home side spurn six scoring chances and that proved costly when the visitors got a second converted try.
Carwyn Lloyd-Williams fielded a poor clearing kick and opened up to fullback Pete Towers. The ball was recycled to prop Gaz Smith and he barged forward before offloading for Ross White to gallop clear and score under the posts with Bennett converting for a 14-3 lead at the break.
It was always unlikely Chester’s defence would hold if Harrogate continued to dominate possession and, unfortunately for the visitors, the second-half saw the dam break.
Harrogate scored a penalty on 42 minutes and eight minutes later added a converted try from a driven lineout to come within a point.
Defiantly, Chester came back with a Bennett penalty on 53 minutes to extend their lead to four points but Harrogate then hit a purple patch, scoring three fine tries in the next quarter of an hour.
Fly-half Callum Irvine, had caused Chester no end of trouble in the same fixture last season, and now found the key to unlock the midfield defence. First he made a clean break to score himself, then he collected an offload from inside centre Cam Leadley to touch down for his second before setting up winger Sam Bottomley to cross.
Chester, however, were not done yet and in the 70th minute a loose clearance led to a break by wing Pete Rees. The forwards controlled the ball well through a series of phases for Gav Woods to cross for an unconverted try.
However, it was left for Irvine to have the last word, making a clean break following an attacking lineout to score an excellent individual try under the posts.
Chester, who do not have a fixture this weekend, played with very little ball so the fact Jon Aby's men managed to score three tries and hold the match in balance for so long, despite a dearth of possession, says much for the side’s resilience.
Walker's star turn as Helsby run riot
Helsby had to make do with a share of the spoils after a low-scoring draw at leaders Winnington Park 3rds in Division Five South.
With the two teams scoring plenty of points, most expected a try-fest but the game could not have been more different in an intensely tight game with defences on top.
Excellent last ditch tackles thwarted both sides ad the first-half ended pointless before penalties were swapped in the second period as the contest finished 3-3. Dan Mullally kicked Helsby's points.
Oilers bounce back to winning ways
Ellesmere Port ground out a narrow 20-18 win over Newton-le-Willows in Merseywide West which leaves Steve Dorrington’s side fifth in the table.
Trophy torment as Swans thrashed
Christleton put up a decent performance at Glossop 2nds in Division Two South but ended up on the wrong side of a 19-13 scoreline. The Swans are third in the table.