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Otley edged out after muddy battle
Chester 10, Otley 8
With speed restrictions on the M62, it seemed a forlorn hope that there would be any play possible in this SSE National League Two North match as the rain bounced off the windscreen of a coach full of hopefuls crossing the Pennines.
But they arrived at Chester in glorious sunshine which lasted throughout the afternoon.
Unfortunately there was the legacy of a very muddy surface and a cold, strong wind blowing down the pitch which Otley were first to use.
They made good use of the wind, pinning Chester back and, on just five minutes, went ahead when scrum half Stephen Depledge kicked a penalty.
But Otley had to work hard to thwart a confident Chester side, who were throwing their big men into the line on the crash-ball.
With their tackling once again of the highest order and their line-out precise, Otley were able to attack at every opportunity and went further ahead after 20 minutes.
The ball was run blind-side from a scrum on the home 22, passing at speed to winger Nazir Karim, who crashed through his opposite number on his way to the corner.
The half-time lead of 8-0 would have looked better had a chip through to the posts taken a further bounce. It was unfortunately knocked on just short.
It took Chester just four minutes to get back into the game, a good mauling drive taking them to the Otley line where lock John Mackenzie broke off to dive over.
But they made no further advance until the 56th minute when they marched over at a five-metre scrum, No 8 Guy Ford grounding.
Otley replied from the restart with possibly the best move of the game, sweeping upfield only to be robbed when referee Claire Hodnett pulled them up for crossing.
Twice more they came close, penalised for coming in from the side on one occasion and being turned over when pressing the line, so they came away with just one point.