Spirited Panthers fall short at league leaders

Chesterfield Panthers' Chris Ward kicks a conversion
Chesterfield Panthers' Chris Ward kicks a conversion

Injury-hit Chesterfield Panthers got some relieve ahead of their trip to Midlands Division Three East (North) leaders Sleaford.

The Dunston Road outfit travelled with a strong pack but had to shuffle around the back line, as they went in search of a second win of the 2014/15 campaign.

Sleaford tried to take advantage of the visitors slow start to the game and enjoyed the majority of possession but only had a missed penalty to show for their efforts.

And, as Panthers started to steady the ship, flanker Matt Nesbit was shown a red card after he was adjudged to have dangerously tipped a Sleaford forward during a tackle.

It was a big blow to the Chesterfield side still adapting to life in the step above and Sleaford, ultimately, kicked on and this time were able to get the touch down unopposed.

Panthers continued to snooze in defence and after an error at the restart Sleaford attacked quickly down the wing to score again out wide. Troubled waters laid ahead.

Chesterfield were in danger of capitulating. But they stemmed the tide with a handful of quick phases to put the hosts on the back foot.

After several penalties, a quick tap by scrum-half Eric Wright took the ball close to the line allowing Luke Holt to crash over for Panthers first try. Chris Ward added the extras.

Coach Derrick Sherlock offered words of encouragement at the break, with the score giving Chesterfield belief going in to what they knew was going to be a second half battle.

Sleaford, however, are leading the way for a reason and were able to exploit the man advantage, nipping in for try number three soon after the restart.

Rob Collins broke superbly from a scrum off-loading to centre Adam Miles, who ran in 30 metres to score Panthers second. Holt drove over from close range to score his second.

And, with Ward adding the conversion, Chesterfield were withing five points of Sleaford. Ward then broke from the back line and off-loaded to Collins who scored under the posts.

Ward held his nerve once more to put Panthers in to a well-deserved two-point lead with minutes left to play. A spirited display had got them sailing for open waters.

But late pressure from Sleaford told and after thunderous attacks on the Chesterfield 22 gave the hosts a chance to kick for the win with a penalty they duly converted.

FT: Sleaford 27 Chesterfield 26.

Panthers: Jones, Davison, Allen, Allen, Barnett, Nesbit, Brailsford, Holt, Wright, Collins, Rose, Miles, Ward, Avenier, Cawthorne.

Subs: Teagle, Walton, Windle.

Tries: Holt 2, Miles, Collins.

Conversions: Ward 3.