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Chester visited Lancaster in what was the first match of the new term. There was no sign of the excess beer and turkey consumed over the festive period as the match began ferociously with some great defensive work by the Lynx. Those efforts payed off as after a swift attacking move through the middle, the ball ended in forward Dan Percival’s grasp, who wrestled past 4 defenders and rolled over the line to make it 6-0. The lead did not last long, as Chester made a break down the right, and with the help of supporting men levelled the score.
Chester then took the lead, going down the blind side from the scrum to barge over the whitewash, but couldn’t add the extras from the conversion, making it 6-10. Lancaster responded well, putting pressure on the Chester try-line as both sides exchanged sets. Lancaster then recovered the ball, where Simon Vale bulldozed his way through Chester’s left side, sending defenders toppling in his wake. He was eventually tackled 10 metres from the try-line, but a quick play with the ball assisted Paddy Boyers who scooted from dummy half to take Lancaster back into the lead, after a successful conversion from Matty Canavan. The lead would switch again immediately, as from kick-off the ball was dropped whilst in the tackle, with Chester taking advantage to lead at the break 12-16.
The deadlock for the second half was broken soon after the restart, as some clever work from Boyers off the back of the scrum allowed him dance through the Chester defence and run 60 metres to score. With a missed conversion the match was tied at 16-16. The contest continued to be even, and as the match went on it looked like one point could win it. After a couple of missed drop goal attempts from Boyers, he broke through the Chester line and offloaded to Chris Russell, a revelation in his new role at hooker, who finished in the corner to lead 22-16.
With less than 10 minutes left, Lancaster failed to ‘put the ball up their jumpers’ and made a simple error to gift Chester a way back into the match and level the scores. With Lancaster hurting from conceding so late on, they came roaring out of the blocks, and once in possession began positioning themselves for a drop goal attempt. After flirting with the try-line on the right to no avail, the ball came back into the middle. The responsibility fell to scrum-half Jacob Ashton-Brookes, who slotted the drop-goal over, giving Lancaster a last gasp 23-22 victory. Lancaster showed great determination to grind out the win, and will hope that this builds momentum for their upcoming fixtures.