07/09/19 Tigers  25  -  19 Chester

On Saturday Tigers welcomed last season’s league 2 North runners up and beaten League 2  playoff contestants in what always promised to be a tough examination of the progress that Tigers have made during the close season.

Once again Chester brought with them the huge pack that in physical terms left most of the Tigers forwards standing in the shade and with Thomas Foden (rumoured to be the less beautiful looking brother of Ben) in their back unit, this was shaping up to be a very stern test indeed.

Chester kicked off with the sun at their back and Tigers immediately gathered and took the battle straight to the Chester pack. The ball however was turned over on the halfway line and Chester started, what would become, their signature route one approach of pick and drive, using their initially fresh large front five. Tigers met rampaging runs with thunderous tackles, drawing their own line in the sand as to the standards they were going to play to for the afternoon. In four Chester runs, Tigers took them back 10 metres with Anthony Simcox, Liam Wallace especially prominent with early huge hits. Then the Chester scrum-half Holloway threw a pass left where upon his intended target took the ball, got hit by Jamie Broadley, dropped the ball and Broadley was immediately on his feet, picked the ball up and headed off for the left hand corner. He handed off the Chester centre Van Sertima and hit his stride, taking a beautifully angled run to score in the corner ( amid the roars of the incredulous crowd! ) to give no chance of being caught by the chasing Chester fullback and wing. 5 minutes into the game and Tigers 5 - 0 up. Mark Ireland narrowly failed to convert the try in what turned out to be his only missed kick of the game. Tigers took the kick-off cleanly and drove up the middle of the pitch, showing no fear of the Chester pack and not giving an inch in ground. The next 10 minutes was spent with both sides driving at each other between the two 10 metre lines as both teams were guilty of allowing turnovers. Chester picked and drove time and again with Captain Ed Simmons, Lee Orton, Wallace and Anthony Symcox driving into the tackles and shuddering Chester backwards. Then came a break from David Ford, the Chester 6, who made 10 metres and then supplied ball to his support. Chester were finally stopped 10 metres from the Tigers try line and Louis Townend came up with a tremendous turnover which enabled Tigers to drive up to a few metres short of their own 10 metre line. Unfortunately, the ref blew for a penalty and Chester opted to kick into the right hand corner. Chester duly took the resulting throw-in and drove over (against very stubborn defence) for their first try on 18 minutes. The Chester tactics have not changed much since last season! Callum Bennett ( No relation to Phil as far as I know!) converted and Chester took the lead 5 - 7 and restored a semblance of order for the brave Chester supporters who had made the trip and who have high expectations for their team this season. From the kick-off Tigers tackled ferociously and were defending inside the Chester 10 metre line, when they forced an error but were adjudged to have knocked the ball forward. Chester took the scrum and with another Ford break, backed up by Foden and Van Sertima, they made their way deep into the Tigers 22. Good solid defence from Peter Swatkins, Greg Mellor and Henri Packard forced another penalty from Chester and Ireland cleared to touch. The throw-in was taken cleanly and Tigers driving through Frank Wragg, Alan Symcox and Wallace forced the Chester pack to give a penalty away one metre inside their own half. The crowd went quiet as Ireland prepared and approached the kick. The crowd then erupted as it sailed perfectly between the posts. Half an hour gone Tigers 8 - 7 up and matching Chester everywhere on the park. The pack discipline in the set piece was exceptional against the opposition who were probably a stone a man heavier (although that was concentrated mainly in their numbers 1,3, 4 & 5!). Three minutes later Chester broke down the right wing through another Ford break releasing the Chester back unit – with the right wing Harrison Vare making an impact. Despite heroic defence from Tom Hart, Broadley and Swatkins. Chester scored in the left hand corner with Bennett unable to convert, and looked to be heading for half-time 8 - 12 ahead. However from the kick-off Tigers went hunting, hounding and harrying Chester and regained possession. Ryan Holmes got Ireland moving down the left wing, he ran straight at the Chester defence and gave a beautiful pass to Packard who took his chance and left the Chester right wing Vare for dead. Speeding down the wing, Packard drew the fullback Sean Green and passed inside to Broadley who ran in unopposed to score. Ireland claimed the conversion and Tigers were 15 - 12 up. From the kick off Chester gave away a penalty for offside and Ireland kicked for the corner. What a turn round, the end of the first half saw Tigers driving the Chester pack backwards in a well controlled rolling maul. They drove over the line, the crowd cheered, the ref (who had a great game and was right on the scene) adjudged held up. For all you Major League fans “personally I felt we got hosed on that call!” . NB this is a humouress reference and in no way any slight on the ref, it was just an opportunity for me to use the quote – before you start writing to complain!

Tigers kicked off the second-half and continued their momentum from the first half. The now trenchlike warfare between the 22’s as Chester’s pack picked and drove again and again, only to be repelled each time with rock solid tackling saw Chester gain more of a territorial advantage. They did not have an answer to the Tigers’ back line, who probed, tested and stretched Chester at every opportunity. To such effect that they gave away another penalty just outside their own 22 metre. Once again Ireland stepped up and kicked it with precision and Tigers were 18 - 12 up. After 10 minutes Luke Crofts came on to replace Louis Townsend who had a great game. Tigers retained possession on their own 22 and Holmes set Hart off who ghosted past his opposite centre and hared off down field. He passed to Broadley, just as he was being shut down, and Broadley jinked on and bore down on the hapless Green, giving a well timed pass to the lightening Packard to go over on the left hand side of the posts for Tigers third try and his 100th in a Tigers shirt. Ireland made sure of his spot kick and Tigers led 25 - 12 with 15 minutes gone in the second half. This galvanised the Chester team into action and in another pick up and drive sequence, Chester scored with an immediate try and conversionn reply, 25 - 19. It suddenly looked very ominous for the home team. However the following 20 minutes was one of pick and drive with Tigers still keeping their tackling standards up and penalty errors to one which ended in Wragg taking the Chester line-out much to the away side’s amazement! The last 5 minutes of the game Chester bombarded the Tigers' pack and backs with drive after drive, all of which were snuffed out, however Chester drove inexorably towards the Tigers' try line. There was a sense of deja vu for the loyal Tigers’ fans, who to ease their tensions just shouted their support and how the team responded! With three minutes to go and the ball out to the Chester wing, he knocked on (maybe at the surprise of getting a pass?) and Tigers scrummaged again. It was the only one the pack lost all afternoon and the Chester back-row drove for the line on the right hand side of the Tigers’ posts. The whole team kept formation, discipline and focus and after four drives had pushed the Chester attack out to the right hand touchline. Another Chester pick and go and it looked a certain try  - BUT NO! the ref awarded Tigers a penalty for holding on, Ireland kicked it dead and the team celebrated a fantastic hard fought win over an extremely good side. It was a great testament to the hard work put in pre-season and the team spirit that has evolved to another level and avenged the 18 - 24 loss that Chester inflicted on Tigers in the same fixture last season.

Scorers: Tries: Broadley(2), Packard (1)
Conversions: Ireland (2)
Penalties: Ireland (2)

Team: Bennett, Townsend (Crofts), Simmons (Bingham), Ant Symcox, Orton , Wragg (Fitzsimons) , Wallace, Al Symcox, Holmes, Ireland, Packard, Hart, Broadley,  Mellor, Swatkins

Replacements: Crofts, Bingham, Pond, Fitzsimons, Duffy

Man of the match  - Anthony Symcox & Liam Wallace

Match Report by:  Paul Wrench


Glyn Chandler Trophy

31/08/19 Tigers  27  -  8 Sheffield

Dore Moor decided to remind us why we love it so much. The day started out blustery with patchy sunshine. As we came to midday light rain then a downpour accompanied by a strengthening sou’wester arrived. Then almost immediately the sun came out for the rest of the day, although the wind stayed as a permanent fixture.

It was into the breeze that Sheffield kicked off straight into touch. A penalty at the resulting scrum then saw Mark Ireland step up, and reading the wind beautifully, slotted home his kick from 50 metres giving Tigers a 3 - 0 lead from the off. Sheffield kicked off again and applied pressure, matching tackle for tackle, industrious at the breakdown and having some success with half breaks that threatened a score. Tigers soaked up the pressure and although one or two of the more dangerous Sheffield breaks looked like producing a score, the back line always managed to make the last decisive tackle whilst covering players got back to harry, defend and force Sheffield errors. Eventually a Sheffield attack paid off as Tigers were penalised in front of their own posts. The penalty was sucessful to level the scores at 3 - 3. The Tigers pack were in imperious form at the set scrum, driving Sheffield backwards at every one, forcing them to deal with their own ball on retreat and restricting service to the back line. That was when Tigers had not claimed the ball as their own. James Newman and Lee Orton combining intuitively with the front row. Captain Ed Simmons leading from the front who with a great game from Nick Bingham and Louis Townsend, gave very little away the to Sheffield front row who endured a tough afternoon. The game remained tight with Tigers attacking and Sheffield defending with the occasional breakout. As half-time approached, a good handling move saw Henri Packard score in the corner. The conversion drifted wide and Tigers went into the break 8 - 3 ahead.

At the start of the second half , into the weather mix appeared a hurricane as Henri Packard and Greg Mellor both showed their pace and running flair as they outflanked the Sheffield defence to finish off flowing, open handling moves to break the Sheffield resolve. Ireland did well to convert one of the three from out on the touchline and Tigers took a 20 - 3 lead. Through this half Sheffield showed a magnificent spirit and never let up in their search to get back into the game and eventually they broke through and got a well taken and deserved try near enough to the posts to take the lottery out of the duly taken conversion, 20 - 8. In the last quarter Jamie Broadley stepped up to score a dazzling try through the centre of the field, finishing off an intricate handling display and setting up Ireland to finish the game as he started with a micrometre precision conversion and a final score of 27 - 8 to Tigers.

A wonderful game of rugby played in a great spirit and delivered the day that both clubs wanted – a day when rugby won!

In the early kick off match, Tigers (Barnsey) XV 39 - Sheffield XV 7

Report: Paul Wrench