By Michael Curley
Panthers vs Worksop
Chesterfield Panthers vs Worksop
On a cold, miserable day in Chesterfield the Panthers welcomed local rivals Worksop, who like the Panthers have been wrestling with mid table obscurity.
2018/19 is somewhat of a new start for Chesterfield with new head coach Steve Grainger trying to stamp his mark on what is a remarkably young team. But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Panthers went into the fixture with several absentees through injury, so much so that captain and centre Leon Owen had to switch to an unfamiliar role in the pack. But it was Chesterfield that started the brighter of the two teams, looking to use the ball and put on width at any opportunity, their youth and exuberance coming to the fore. The first strike was a lovely play, with a fantastic running line from Glen Grayson putting him in the corner. Panthers took control from here with the 18 year old fly half Kevin Shiels really pulling the strings, probing at the Worksop defences, Shiels finally got another breakthrough, putting his centre clear and being there to receive the ball back to go over the line. A try from Worksop through their much larger pack was only going to stem the tide as Panthers backline continued to excite the supporters with attacking rugby, Chesterfield's third try coming from more wide play, putting Jack Large over the line for five points. Panthers’ last try of the half came from the excellent Kevin Shiels, surprising the defence with his nimble footwork.
As the second half started Worksop's big pack looked tired and Panthers’ forwards took advantage of this, taking the game to them with their superior fitness. In particular, Jaydon Slatcher and tight-head Colin Baker impressed. But this was a day for the back line, now receiving clean ball scrum half Dean Shiels could supply younger brother Kevin with endless ball and he really did put that to good use, Panthers running in tries from Phil Cawthorne, Scott Widowson, Steve Hatt, Dave Wrath and Jaydon Slatcher dotting over for the forwards to make the final score 51-12.
Panthers really did impress and are starting to embrace the new coaching structure, with their incredibly young team and top quality coaching team, things could be looking up for Chesterfield's team.