RUGBY: Chesterfield Panthers deliver statement of intent with another strong performance
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Panthers kept up their wide style of rugby that had seen them rack up 404 points in their first five games.
Chesterfield knew they would have to battle to come away with the points and straight from the kick off, Vale came at Panthers with a ferocity they hadn’t come across yet this season.
Strong carry after strong carry were met with firm defence, Panthers determined not to give the visitors any ground but only a slipped tackle saw Meden Vale’s impressive number six break the line and offload to a supporting player who went under the sticks and the Panthers were behind for the first time this season.
Although clearly annoyed, Panthers never looked in crisis and outside centre Scott Frost-Davies soon showed his fleet-footedness to dance through the defence and put away Glenn Grayson who raced away for the home side’s first score, converted by Ben Hadfield.
The next try was textbook Panthers as after eight phases of punishing carries, they looked wide and great play from fly half Kev Shiels managed to isolate the wide defender to put in wing Jordan Grayson in for the second Grayson brother to go in for five points.
Prop Lee Laughton then received a quick tap penalty on the 22m line and barrelling straight through three attempted tacklers while carrying another three across the whitewash with him for will certainly be challenging for try of the season, again converted by Hadfield.
The next try saw strong carries up the middle of the park by George Barnes and Eddie Williams making space in the wide channels for captain Scott Widdowson to put away Frost-Davies who danced through and swan dived over the line for the waiting cameras to see, Hadfield again converting.
The next score saw the roles reversed with a similar set of forward carries, Dec Wileman grafting to ensure quick ruck ball, Frost-Davies again breaking the line but this time putting away Widdowson to score Chesterfield’s fifth try.
Substitutes then made a great impact and good carries from Nate Poulton and Jack Preece led to the space for Chris Cooper to release full back Ben Hadfield who in turn put away Glenn Grayson for his second try.
Try number seven was an absolute study in simple rugby, four players drawing the defender and passing it down the line leading to the extra man on the wing running into space, Jordan Grayson going in for four in total for the Grayson family. Converted by Hadfield.
The game’s final try came from a very familiar blueprint with the Chesterfield pack making yards with ferocious carries only for the backline to reap the reward with Frost-Davies again cutting through the line and beating the fullback with a simple two on one, seeing Hadfield crossing the line.
Player coach Scott Frost-Davies said: “We expected a very physical game from Vale and they are a side we have struggled with in recent years. We really worked on our line speed and took away their big carriers any chance to get going. We knew if we could stick with them for the first 20 minutes, then we could then stamp our brand of rugby on the game. The second half was especially pleasing, and we played some of our best rugby this season.”
*On the bottom pitch, the Panthers second team overcame Thornensians 34-24 with tries from Leon Owen, Dave Wrath, Luke Holt, Rich Keeling (2) and Jake Blair to make it four wins out of four.