Queens Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Chiefs, they have never won a league game there, and this was no exception. Thanks to a couple of long range Dan Retter penalties and some fine defensive work, they were only four points adrift at half time, but Paignton took control after the break to chalk up a big win and a bonus point.
Sidmouth kicked off in perfect conditions and soon opened the scoring with a Tom Whelan penalty. The full back was on the field long enough to see the Paignton scrum half equalise with a similar effort before having to leave the field with a head injury. He was replaced by Jamie Wardrop. Dan Retter took over the kicking duties and banged over a 40 metre effort after Jack Pyne had picked up a loose ball in his own 22 to start a move which put his side on the attack.
Soon after this the Chiefs difficulties started, when they had two players yellow carded in quick succession following a warning by the referee for persistent offences at the breakdown. This is now the third time in six games that they have fallen foul of the referee in this way. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, once is unfortunate, twice is careless, three times is…….
While the Chiefs were shorthanded, the Cherries equalised with a penalty, then took the lead with a converted try following a quick tap penalty. In first half injury time, Retter kicked a penalty from two metres inside the Paignton half to keep his side well in touch. During the break the Chiefs had an opportunity to regroup, but it was the home side which came out firing. The Chiefs failed to gather the kick off and Paignton took full advantage when their number eight crashed over from a five metre scrum. The try was converted.
Dan Retter kicked another siege gun penalty, and when a Paignton forward was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle the way was still open for a comeback. Instead Paignton surged ahead with a fine try by the right winger after a powerful break by the outside centre had set up the opportunity. A third penalty brought up 30 points before they were restored to a full fifteen. They took firm control with two lineout catch-and-drive tries in quick succession.
To their credit the Chiefs kept battling away and produced two excellent moves which almost brought tries for Chris Higgs, but the right winger was stopped just short of the line, as was Steve Trim following a Dan Retter interception. Their persistent enterprise was eventually rewarded in a rather bizarre fashion. A Paignton 22 drop out went into touch on the full, with players gathering for the expected scrum in midfield, the alternative option of a lineout was taken quickly allowing Tom Hodge to run in under the posts unopposed. Retter added the conversion.
The final act of the game was a drop goal by the Paignton fly half deep into injury time.
The nature of this defeat is a set back after such a good start to the season. However, all teams have now lost at least one of the their opening four games, so the league is wide open with favourites yet to emerge.