Chesterfield Panthers skipper pleased with character shown at Southwell

Rob Davison
Rob Davison
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Chesterfield Panthers captain Chris Ward said his side showed character on the road to Southwell.

Panthers travelled to their Nottinghamshire opponents buoyed by recent form, which had seen them climb up to third in the league.

But a run of four consecutive wins in the Midlands Division Three East (North) came to an end in a closely fought contest on Saturday.

A 28-22 reverse, a third defeat of the season, saw Chesterfield slip to sixth but they still remain within touching distance of the top.

Ward said: “We showed real character today (Saturday), we could have capitulated in the first half but we changed our tactics at half-time and played to our strengths.

“Had there been more time on the clock the win would almost certainly been within reach.”

Panthers began the game with a breeze behind them but were quickly put under pressure by slick handling from the Southwell backs.

After spending the first ten minutes defending their own line, the hosts were able to break through in the corner to score the first try.

Chesterfield immediately pounced on the restart and won a penalty just outside the 22-metre line, which Chris Ward was able to slot through the posts to pull back within two points. With the wind causing problems at the line-out, Panthers were struggling to win field position even after the referee had penalised Southwell several times.

Southwell were able to add their second try after some poor defending from Panthers allowed the Southwell No.8 to crash over close to the posts.

Panthers struggled to put together phases of play with Southwell maintaining a fast pace which Chesterfield attempted, unsuccessfully to match. Panthers attempted to hack the ball forward only for it to bounce perfectly for a Southwell winger to nip in unopposed for the home side’s third try.

Coach Derrick Sherlock issued some stern words at half time. Tye Rose went close in the corner before Glenn Grayson smartly touched down out wide. Ward just shaved the post with the conversion attempt.

It was Southwell’s turn to come under pressure as Chesterfield worked the ball securely through the forwards in midfield and a perfectly timed pass from Jordan Grayson to his brother Glenn allowed the full-back to beat four defenders and touch down under the posts for a brace. Ward knocked over the simple conversion.

Panthers’ tails were up and played with the confidence they had demonstrated in recent weeks. Following a period of Chesterfield pressure a mistake would once again cost the away team as a dropped ball was pounced upon by Southwell and the ball was shifted quickly down the line allowing them to sneak in for their fourth try against the run of play.

It would be Chesterfield who finished the strongest after a long period of possession within the home sides 22-metre line, which saw Paul Jones and Steve Allen held up over the line. After several penalties, a quick tap from Eric Wright fed the ball to Ward who stepped inside two defenders to score an invaluable try under the posts. Ward added the all-important conversion to pull Panthers back within six points and secure the losing bonus point.

Panthers: Titley, Davison, Allen, Kennedy, Windle, Brailsford, Jones, Holt, J. Grayson, Wright, Cawthorne, Miles, Ward (c), Rose, G. Grayson.