Chesterfield Panthers had to dig deep for their seventh consecutive win on Saturday.
Panthers progressed in to the next round of the league cup following a 13-5 win against Long Eaton, who they will meet again in the next league game on January 4, 2014.
Captain Steve Avenier said following the victory: “It was important that we finished the year with a win and continue to build on our run of form.”
With the Home advantage, Chesterfield came flying out of the blocks. Both teams seemed determined to stamp their authority on the game with big tackles and both forward packs competing at the break-downs.
The Panthers forwards started to show their domination and with strong running from the packs back five. Chesterfield were camped on Long Eaton’s line but struggled to convert this pressure, to points on several occasions.
One penalty miss and both Andy Hughes and Luke Holt being held up over the line.
A power struggle continued as the contenders were able to string a good series of play exploiting a few of Chesterfield’s weaknesses, which may have led to a break away try but Chesterfield proved their resilience once more and re-gained control of the game.
Strong rucking from Paul Jones, Terry Titley and Rob Davison enabled Chesterfield to build a series of phases leading to solid ball for the backs’. Avenier exploited space on the blind enabling Tye Rose to finish in the corner.
Panthers were forced to make changes when Carl Walker picked up an injury and Jonny Ryan dropped to full back with Iain Taylor filling into the stand-off role.
The first half ended as it started - with a Chesterfield try.
The hosts maintained an attacking advantage with direct running from the forwards, failing to convert good opportunities to extend the lead until a second opportunity to exploit the blind side came and Tye Rose in for his brace.
Panthers faced a tough head wind and up-hill slope after the break. Long Eaton recognised the advantage and tried to utilise their kicking game, which was neutralised by the back three.
Jonny Ryan came from depth to run the ball back to the opposition, time and time again. The pattern of the game had been disrupted for Chesterfield much to Long Eatons credit, with both forward packs aggressive at the break down spoiling any 50-50 balls.
Iain Taylor played Panthers into some good field territory with his boot lifting the team and hopes of scoring again. A penalty came the hosts’ way as a result of repeated infringements.
Iain Taylor slotted the penalty home. Bit a battling Long Eaton took advantage in a lapse of concentration by the Panthers and made their way down field following a few one on one tackles, leaving the scrambling defence depleted and confused.
As the match drew to a close the flow of the game broke down with repeated scrums being awarded for both team following simple mistakes and wrong decisions.
Panthers had opportunities to add further tries towards the latter stages of the game - typical to how the game started the chances were missed.
Avenier added: “It was great to get the win but you are left a little disappointed knowing you could have come off the pitch with more to show for the performance.
“But that said we have a number of new players in the team who showed us their individual skills, we just need to bring these altogether.”
Panthers RUFC: Paul Jones, Rob Davison, Terry Titley, Alex Allen, Andy Hughes, Tom Rice, Ant Williams, Luke Holt, Steven Avenier (C), Carl Walker, Chris Ward, Ben Bunting, Tye Rose, Jordan Grayson, Iain Taylor. Subs: Mark Coward, Jonny Ryan.
Man of the Match: Andy Hughes.