Hillmen beaten by pack power
CONEY Hill started life in South West One West, after restructuring, against a side they had never met and already docked five points for an unfulfilled fixture last season.
But for the first quarter they cast all this aside.
They caught the visitors cold, tearing into them from their kick-off, moving the ball out cleanly and quickly to the wing for Cameron Hunter to mark his debut with a well-taken try in the corner.
Five minutes later, Andy MacRae's bullocking charge broke through the midfield, making 25 yards before setting up Luke Morgan for Coney's second.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
But there were already ominous signs as the well-drilled Chard pack began to edge the set scrums and the Hillmen were finding their rolling maul hard to stop.
Chard's first score came from an unfortunate lapse of concentration as Coney players joined a scuffle to rescue an outnumbered colleague, leaving Chard centre Neil Douglas to virtually stroll over near the posts.
Fly-half Chris Doak converted to narrow the deficit to 10-7.
Both sets of backs were throwing the ball about in the near-perfect playing conditions but with both defences equal to the pressure it was left to the forwards to make meaningful gains in territory and possession.
Here Chard held the advantage. They disrupted Coney's scrums and continually gobbled up yards of ground with their rolling maul.
Coney fell foul of the referee in trying to stop it, being penalised several times for pulling it down or entering from the side.
On the back of this forward power Chard forced a series of five-metre lineouts and from one catch and drive hooker Sam Jenkins touched down to give the visitors a 12-10 interval lead.
Coney Hill restarted in determined fashion with their young scrum-half Shane Maguire and fly-half Rory Baker trying to spin quick ball out to their backs, but often it was slowed down in the rucks.
Chard turned to their rolling maul whenever possible and inched down the field like a giant armadillo.
Again this forced a penalty, then a five-metre lineout culminating in a drive over for flanker Rob Hellier to push the lead to 17-10.
Luckily Doak was off-target with kickable penalties and conversions or Chard would have been out of sight.
With the game slipping away from them, Coney Hill drove into Chard's half with lock Sid King, Daniel Broady and MacRae to the fore.
But handling broke down under determined tackling and Chard turned the ball over and broke away to wrong-foot the defence and full-back Chris Allen-Roberts squeezed over in the corner.
With even a losing bonus point ebbing away, Coney mounted sustained pressure on the Chard line, eventually being rewarded when King forced his way over to give Coney hope at 22-15.
But the Chard pack had the last word when giant number eight Jim Wagstaff broke through some tired tackles to allow Doak to rub salt in with an easy conversion.
At the final whistle Coney Hill were attacking in Chard's 22 but at 29-15 that losing bonus point still eluded them.
Coney Hill: C Holder; C Hunter, S Morgan (R Barnett, 52), S Felice, J Hamlin; S Maguire, R Baker; C Downes, R Nicholls, J Mann, P Richards (M Jordan, 20), S King, S Attwooll, D Broady, A MacRae. Rep not used: B Webb
Chard: C Allen-Roberts; G Herbert, B Harrison, N. Douglas, J Massey; C Doak, B Johnson; N Hyslip, S Jenkins (B Robinson, 63), G Aplin, R Mouland, A Henly, R Hellier, J Wagstaff, J Wright. Reps not used: M Gosden, G Riley
Referee: Nick Palmer (Gloucester & District Society)