Chelmsford leave it late to seal Holt victory

First published in Local Sport

Chelmsford recorded their third successive league victory over a strong and physical Holt side, to leave them just two points behind second-placed Ipswich.

Having led 6-5 at the interval, playing up the slope against a strong wind, and playing some controlled and purposeful rugby, Chelmsford should have gone on to dominate the second half proceedings and put Holt under pressure with long range touch kicks, up and unders, and play the game in their opponent’s 22, but for some reason the intensity to their game fell off and this suited the visitors. Chelmsford were first on the scoresheet when fly half Simon Hoult slotted over an eighth-minute penalty after Holt were penalised for coming offside.

Minutes later the visitors charged down a kick on the Chelmsford’s 22 metre line, from which they scored an unconverted try to take them into a 3-5 lead.

Chelmsford then had their first scoring opportunity when scrum half Ben Bailey took a quick penalty tap and the ball was moved swiftly down the Chelmsford back line, only for the ball to go into touch.

Hoult had a chance to regain the lead from around 35 metres out when the visitors were caught offside again, but he narrowly missed with his kick.

Chelmsford then had their best spell of the half in the last 20 minutes of the first half, when they mounted several attacks on the Holt try line, with second row Jim Cooke being tackled just short of the line and then minutes later, prop Dean Lester was tackled agonisingly short of the try line and bundled into touch.

The Chelmsford forwards were playing some good driving rugby and supporting each other in the rucks and mauls, but just as they got to the Holt line once more they gave away a silly penalty for a late tackle which relieved the pressure on the visitors’ line.

Holt were now beginning to fall foul of the referee, when they were penalised three times in succession for being offside. From one of these penalties Hoult regained the lead for the home side by slotting over a 25 metre penalty in front of the posts.

Just two minutes into the second half, Holt were penalised again for coming round offside and Hoult kicked his third penalty to increase the lead to 9-5, but the visitors quickly reduced the margin again to one point when Chelmsford were penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck.

Holt showed a willingness to attack, but while Chelmsford’s defence held firm, they couldn’t seem to get their hands on the ball and thus dominate the game and put pressure on their opponents.

It was not until the last ten minutes of the game that they got into their opponents 22 metre area, when following a penalty, Hoult drilled the ball into touch, a catch and drive move ensued, and then finally hooker, Adam Ferrier, peeled off the maul to sprint to the line and beat two tacklers to touch down near the posts.

With Hoult kicking the vital conversion, this meant that the visitors had to score twice to win the game.

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