Chesterfield Panthers’ ten-match winning run came to an end as they were held to a 7-7 draw with promotion rivals Amber Valley.
The torrential rain in Lower Somercoates caused a brief stoppage in play as both sides found it tough going but the game did finish against the odds.
Saturday’s clash saw the top two in Midlands Division Four East (North) go head-to-head and it was as you were at full time, with the Panthers continuing to lead the way by a point.
Full report to follow.
Panthers travelled to second place Amber Valley in what should have been a league showcase with the top two teams going head to head in a battle for top spot.
In their first match of the season back in October, Amber Valley won by five points and are one of only three teams who have beaten the Panthers this season in the league and cup.
Having arrived at the Valley ground players and spectators alike, soon found out it was never going to be the running spectacle the occasion deserved.
With the weather playing havoc with the pitch the playing surface was more conducive to pig farming than rugby.
Panthers kicked off in the driving rain and with both teams struggling to keep hold of the ball, Panthers probably edging the opening exchanges.
Unbelievably, after ten minutes the game was postponed for a short time with lightening striking the pitch.
After a short break the game carried on in much the same vein with knock on, after knock on stifling any sort of running rugby.
This certainly didn’t play to the Panthers strengths, with Paul Jones and Rob Davison seemingly enjoying themselves in the front row, putting in hit after hit in the mud.
With the first half coming to an end Chesterfield managed a prolonged period of pressure in the Valley half. With the Panthers now forcing the play, the backs took the ball down the centre of the park with what was a bizarre series of events, ending with a fantastic chase by Tye Rose to score under the posts. Ian Taylor adding the extras.
The second half was another turgid affair in the mud, with both teams struggling to get a grasp on the game and indeed the ball. Glen Grayson and John Ryan impressing with their catching skills in the terrible conditions, as Valley used their kicking game to try and win territory.
With around ten minutes remaining Valley drilled a penalty deep into Chesterfield territory. The resulting lineout was won by Valley and with the driving maul, seemingly repelled by the Panthers, the referee awarded yet another penalty try. Amber Valley converting and with this, came the end of the game.
The game was by no means a blockbusting festival of rugby but enthralling all the same with both teams giving their all in the dirt. This was really a spectacle for the Rugby Union aficionado that hankers back to the “good old days”.
Man of the match went to open side Tom Rice. His tireless work on the floor and constant defensive efforts really epitomised the game.
All Credit must go to Amber Valley who managed to keep the game on and to the team for putting up such a stern examination of the Panthers team.
Chesterfield Panthers RUFC: Paul Jones, Rob Davison, Joe Walton, Alex Allen, Will Stride, Andy Hughes, Tom Rice, Luke Holt, Steven Avenier (c), Ian Taylor, Jonny Ryan, Chris Ward, Benjamin Button, Glenn Grayson.
Subs: Jordan Grayson, Tye Rose, Terry Titley, Alex Hughes, Chris Windle.
Next game: Saturday, February 1. Chesterfield Panthers 1st XV play at home in the RFU Cup. Kick Off: 2.15pm.