NICK Easter hailed his Chinnor side after they dug deep to secure a crucial bonus point victory over Cinderford.

The Oxfordshire outfit bounced back to end a three-match losing run and move five points clear of the National League 1 relegation zone, thanks to a 26-22 win.

Tries from Josh Hodson and Reece Marshall helped Chinnor into a 26-22 lead after 53 minutes but, despite continued pressure and territory, they were unable to add to their tally.

That set up a thrilling finish with Cinderford looking likely to snatch a late win, but they were unable to turn two lineouts into tries as Chinnor held on for an important victory.

Easter, Chinnor’s director of rugby, said: “We needed to win this one. That was a big five points after three losses on the bounce and to get the bonus point as well was good.

“I was speaking to their director of rugby [Paul Morris] before the game and this is my first Chinnor-Cinderford match.

“He said ‘they are always thrillers, they always get the pulse rate high’ and I thought I could do without one of them.

“But it turns out that every single time these two sides get together that’s the way it’s going to be and we’ve come out the right side thankfully.”

Chinnor started strongly and led 12-0 after 14 minutes, thanks to tries from winger Hodson and back row Max Heathman.

Cinderford got on the scoreboard through Morgan Adderly-Jones’ converted try, before they really got a foot hold in the game after Heathman was yellow carded.

Scores from Nathan Taylor and Mike Austin – who also kicked a penalty – put the visitors into a 22-12 lead at half-time, but Chinnor responded well.

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Hodson and hooker Marshall dived over to put the hosts into a 26-22 lead with 53 minutes played but, despite dominating the game, they were unable to extend their advantage further and fly half Tom Price saw his 40m penalty attempt go narrowly wide.

That set up a tense finale which saw Cinderford hammer on the door in the final five minutes.

Chinnor resisted one driving lineout, but another penalty gave the visitors a second bite at the cherry only for the hosts to force a knock-on and bring up the full-time whistle.

Easter added: “I thought, bar that 15 minutes in the first half, we were excellent.

“Of course, the time Cinderford had the ball was in the last five minutes in our 22 which always makes for a nerve jangling contest, but we showed plenty of heart and fight which is great and makes the win even more special.”