CHESTER recovered from an early Vale onslaught to keep their North One promotion hopes on track on Saturday.
They were soon on the back foot when Vale went 3-0 up following a silly infringement from the impatient visitors. And within 15 minutes Vale scored an unconverted try out wide following one of many Chester errors to make the score 8-0.
Chester began to wake up and both sets of forwards went about their business in a physical manner trying to impose their authority.
The early Vale spirit was extinguished and on 31 minutes Chester created a magnificent try finished off by Sean Green to close the gap to three points at the break.
Tactical changes in the approach plays were made at half-time and Chester went out in a positive mood only to find themselves penalised for over-aggressive rucking, which cost them three points.
Directly from the kick-off Chester made a number of surging breaks at the base of rucks and mauls to see the ball quickly recycled which allowed space for the speedy Chester backs to gain good yardage. On 50 minutes the powerful Steve Burke breached the Vale rearguard to power over for an unconverted try to make the score 11-10 to Vale.
Chester kept up the pressure, but were unable to break the line following drive after drive. They then played their masterstroke, this time spinning the ball wide and following a superb break and clever offload by Tom Foden, the classy Simon Verbickas raced over the line untouched for a converted try to give Chester the lead for the first time.
Now it looked a totally different game with the Chester team almost rampant, recycling huge quantities of ball, which gave the energetic back row space to run and link with their faster colleagues in the backs.
After 78 minutes Chester scored their final try which was credited to their leading try scorer Matt Sheen following a powerful pushover try by the Chester forwards from a scrum. The try was converted by Verbickas to wrap up the points.
The Walker Smith Way man of the match award went to Steve Burke for a faultless display at inside centre
St Mary's 18 Helsby 23: Helsby came away with an excellent victory over strong opposition. An early Andy Rowlinson penalty got Helsby on the scoresheet, but the home side hit back with a converted try.
Helsby regained the lead when, following good hands across the back line, wing Alex Rutter received the ball in space and had enough speed to round his opposite man and cross in the corner, Rowlinson converting.
The visitors increased their lead when good pressure by Merrill forced an error by the full back and Felix Jones collected the loose ball and raced 40 yards to score under the posts, Rowlinson converting.
The hosts applied a lot of pressure to the Helsby line at the start of the second half, but excellent defence restricted them to just a penalty, which was cancelled out by a Rowlinson penalty, but a try near the corner gave them hope.
A further Rowlinson penalty gave Helsby the breathing space and Southport could not break through Helsby's well- organised defence.
Helsby's Frodsham Tandoori man-of-the-match was Jim Gray for his excellent work at the base of the scrum. Helsby entertain Port Sunlight tomorrow (2.30pm)
Helsby 2nd 24 Burtonwood 17:Helsby made it four wins in a row. Tony Ayres scored the first try following a scrum, when the fly-half dummied his way past two defenders to score. Brother Steve then increased the lead when he picked up a loose ball to sprint unopposed 30 yards over the line, Dave Orme converting.
The visitors came back stronger in the second half, scoring two quick tries, but Helsby hit back with late tries from second row Tony McGibbon and a superb pushover try from number eight Steve Goodfellow, again converted by Orme.
The Frodsham Tandoori man of the match was Tom Gregory for his outstanding defence. nOn Sunday, Helsby's U14 suffered a one-point home defeat to Ellesmere Port, while the U12s put in a great performance and were runaway winners against Port Sunlight.
Also at home, Helsby U7s and U8s shared the honours with one win apiece against Port Sunlight, while at Wirral, Helsby U11s were no match for the stronger home side.