This Saturday saw the Panthers welcome local rivals Worksop in what last year proved to be a close, well matched clash for both teams. With the heavens finally subsiding for a few hours, the match promised to be a good game for the neutral.
Panthers went into the game in good spirits knowing their home form was so far perfect in the league and that they had every chance of carrying that on. Chesterfield started the game just like the professionals in Japan at the World Cup, they dropped nearly everything, but unfortunately they didn't have the humidity to blame. Inaccuracies for both teams seemed to be the theme of the first 20 minutes with scrum after scrum due to dropped balls. The front row of Jake Ryan, Adam Uprichard and Julian Ord more than holding their own against a much bigger Worksop pack. After 20 minutes the nerves seemed to settle somewhat and the Panthers back line gave us a glimpse of what they could do, a couple of quick rucks gave scrum half Lewis Barnett the chance to release the backs and with a lovely, slick handling move they tore the Worksop defense open to put full back Chris Takel in the corner for his first Panthers try.
What was to come next was straight from the newsagents top shelf with rumours of several spectators having to change their underwear at half time. Straight from the restart, giant lock George Barnes leapt, salmon like, through the air to collect the ball above his head, not happy with this he burst through the Worksop defence, going 60 metres to score a spectacular try that second rows really shouldn't be able to do.
This seemed to spur Worksop on, going back to their strengths with the big pack looking to take on Panthers. With only good defense from back rows Jack Burton, Conor Ashton and Joe Heath keeping them at bay.
Half time Panthers 10-7 Worksop
The second half kicked off with Dean Shiels coming into scrum half and brother Kevin Shiels on the wing, this seemingly upping the tempo with Chesterfield looking increasingly dangerous but inaccurate passing still stopping the scoreline from racking up. The big message from Steve Grainger and the coaching staff was to go back to basics to gain confidence, this exact tactic was applied with fly half Tom O'Brien using his forwards well, putting captain Leon Owen through a gap which set up easy ball for the backs to exploit, putting debutant Chris Takel in for his second try.
This try seemed to do the trick with Panthers now looking like the team they know they can be, centres Scott Widowson and partner Glen Grayson really pulling the Worksop defense apart, and the pressure ultimately payed dividends with Grayson putting O'Brien in at the corner. Chris takel was now looking more and more like an attacking threat, a threat Worksop couldn't handle with the newbie going in for 2 more tries to secure a dream debut and take the man of the match award. The final try was a well taken dart from fly half O'Brien after strong carries from Lee Laughton and Leon Owen which saw not only 1 but both players passing the ball!
This was not the Panthers at their best by any stretch of the imagination but as we know, if you can still win without playing your best you're in a good position.