Chester RUFC ended a run of three straight defeats with a hard-fought 21-15 victory at Sale in National League Two North.
The two sides went into the game with identical records so a close encounter was expected and a strong, swirling wind made conditions tricky.
Sale opened the scoring with an early penalty from Liam McGovern but it was Chester who gained the advantage by scoring two tries in the space of three minutes.
The first came from a scrum in the home 22 when fly-half Rhys Hayes darted through the defence to touch down and add the conversion.
Chester added a quickfire second, moving back up field for Sean Strudwick to power over from close range with Hayes again adding the extra points.
Sale replied when scrum half Connor Dever side-stepped his way through the visiting defence to score and McGovern added the conversion to bring the deficit back to four points.
Chester who continued to look the more dangerous as a fine tackle from Jack Moorhouse halted a surging break from Hayes but the visitors would not be denied and with the final play of the half, Callum Bennett went over and Hayes converted for a 21-10 lead at the break.
Both sides worked hard in the second period with Chester seeking a bonus point try and the hosts attempting to get themselves back in the game, but in the end neither achieved their respective targets.
The sole score in the half came with 15 minutes remaining following a Sale scrum in midfield when a strong run from Chris Mayor put John O’Donnell in for a try that gave the hosts a losing bonus point.
Chester host Macclesfield, who are top of the table, in an all-Cheshire affair at Hare Lane on Saturday (2.15pm).
Luke Jones at the double as Helsby hold on
Helsby entertained Crewe & Nantwich 4ths in horrendous conditions and recorded a 21-7 win in Division Five South.
Luke Jones opened the scoring for the hosts when he crossed inside five minutes as Helsby made a confident and assured start to the contest but the game soon became ragged with a flurry on penalties and the home side begging to look a little complacent.
Helsby came back to life to score twice before half-time, Jones getting his second and Matty Burns going over with Alex Walker adding four points to his earlier conversion for a 21-0 advantage.
However, the game was far from over and the visitors exerted immense pressure to get themselves on the scoreboard and only a try-saving tackle from Liam Barber prevented them for crossing again as Helsby held on the for the win, making it six games without defeat and keeping a tight grip on second place in the table. Helsby visit Bowdon 4ths this weekend.
Swans make it six from six at home
Christleton kept up the chase on Division Two South leaders Whitchurch 2nds with a 39-25 success at home to Winnington Park 2nds.
The Swans, who have won six from six on home soil, are seven points adrift in second but have a game in hand and travel to Northwich 2nds on Saturday.