CLEVE 1st XV 24 v SIDMOUTH 1st XV 19
Despite leading for more than an hour, the Chiefs suffered to their fourth league defeat in a row at Cleve as the home pack took control in the second half.
The Chiefs started the game brightly with two fine counterattacking moves as Cleve were pinned back into their own half. The first set Ben Salter sprinting into the 22 and then Jason Luff was brought down a couple of metres short of the line. A couple of minutes later Luff did cross the line to open the scoring after a sparkling solo run from 30 metres out. Dan Retter added the conversion.
A Dan Retter penalty extended the lead before the Chiefs were subjected to a long period of pressure. The perennial problem of penalties conceded at the breakdown gave the initiative to the home side. However, Sidmouth defended well and Cleve had to be content with a penalty kicked by the full back.
In the 25th minute the referee finally lost patience with the penalty count and sent Neil Barratt to the sin bin. Cleve capitalised on the extra man to score an unconverted try by their number eight when he burst over from close range on the blind side of a driving maul.
The Chiefs hit back at their next attack with a drop goal by Dan Retter. Then Cleve kicked a penalty to the corner and attempted another lineout catch-and-drive. The Sidmouth pack held them out and turned over possession. The ball was cleared upfield where the lead was extended to 16-8 by a Retter penalty in first half injury time.
Another Retter penalty soon after the restart extended the margin to eleven points, but then the balance of the game began to change decisively.
The Cleve pack began to take control and possession for the dangerous Sidmouth backs dried up. The Sidmouth forwards were constantly committed to defending energy sapping mauls and, when the ball was moved away from the forwards, Cleve adopted an increasingly effective kick-and-chase game. Sidmouth were pinned back inside their own half and the Cleve full back chipped away at the lead with two penalties.
The decisive moment came with ten minutes to go. The Chiefs used a penalty clearance to put themselves into a rare attacking position, but an interception in the centre put Cleve back on the attack. The hooker was held up over the line, but at the resulting scrum the Sidmouth eight were shunted back for a pushover try, which was converted to give Cleve the lead for the first time. They kept a strangle hold on the game before extending their lead with a penalty in the last minute.
Midway through the league campaign, Sidmouth have just four wins to their credit but remain clear of the relegation zone thanks to a haul of twelve bonus points, two more than in the whole of last season.
SIDMOUTH 1st XV 22 v CAMBORNE 1st XV 23
Camborne’s better patience and control in attack gave them the edge in this close-fought encounter. The Chiefs had a good share of possession and territory, but too often kicked the ball away or conceded penalties when they had their opponents under pressure.
The Chiefs made a flying start with a try in the opening minute. At the first lineout Sam Cummins latched onto a wayward Camborne throw and set the backs running. Accurate passing put Chris Higgs in space on the left and Jason Luff was in support to finish the move off. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Sidmouth continued to dominate the early play but could not add to their score. On the quarter hour the Camborne fly half opened his side’s account with the first of six penalties.
The Chiefs responded almost immediately when Jack Pyne found space on the blindside of a ruck inside his own half. He burst up field before timing his pass perfectly to send Chris Higgs in at the corner. Again the try was unconverted.
The visitors had the better of the second quarter as their pack gained the upper hand. The fly half closed the gap with two more penalties. They eventually took the lead just before halftime when the outside centre forced his way over from close range after a long period of pressure. The halftime score was 10-14.
The fly half kicked his side further ahead with a penalty soon after the restart. Then Jason Luff reignited his side when he followed up his own kick to re-gather and burst clear. He was eventually brought down a metre short of the line. A Camborne player prevented quick release of the ball, and a likely try. He was yellow carded for the offence. Tom Whelan kicked the resulting penalty, but the Chiefs failed to take any further advantage of the extra man. They came close when Sam Meadham broke down the right to set up a narrow overlap for Glenn Channing, but he was bundled into touch-in-goal before he could ground the ball. However, the Chiefs maintained the attacking position and were eventually rewarded with a Tom Whelan penalty.
The Camborne fly half restored a four point advantage briefly before Whelan put his side ahead with a drop goal and a penalty in quick succession. The lead was short-lived as the visiting number ten converted his sixth penalty to give his side a one point advantage they would hang on to until the final whistle.
SIDMOUTH 1st XV 40 v PAIGNTON 1st XV 3
The Chiefs progressed to the semi-finals of the Devon Senior Cup with this comfortable win against bogy team Paignton, and at the same time erased the memory of a disappointing defeat in last month’s league game at Queen’s Park.
Despite the score line, Paignton had a fair share of possession and territory but could not break down the well-organised and determined Sidmouth defence. By contrast, the Chiefs took their chances clinically.
The Chiefs were the first to settle and had the better of the early exchanges but the forwards were slow to release the ball to the dangerous backs and, when they did get the ball, the backs too often kicked possession away. However, Tom Whelan kept the scoreboard ticking over with three penalties in the first 20 minutes.
The visitors came more into the game in the second quarter, retaining possession well through the phases they kept the Chiefs pinned inside their 22, but were reluctant to move the ball wide. The pressure was eventually relieved when Dan Retter intercepted a loose pass and kicked the ball up field.
A Paignton clearance kick failed to find touch and Zac Bess ran it back with interest before sending Chris Higgs sprinting in at the corner. Whelan added the conversion.
The Chiefs finished the half with 14 men after Lewis Tollerfield was yellow carded for handling in a ruck. Despite the disadvantage, the score remained 16-0 at half time.
The lead was increased within seconds of the restart when the forwards regained possession from the kick off and Jack Pyne burst away down the blindside. He timed his pass perfectly to send Zac Bess clear to the line. The try was unconverted.
Paignton hit back almost immediately with a penalty by the full back. The Cherries were soon back on the attack but debutant winger Ben Salter intercepted inside his own 22 and outpaced the cover to score under the posts. Whelan added the conversion.
The Chiefs dominated the middle part of the half. Twice the forwards were held up over the line before skipper Alan Hubbleday turned up in the centre to burst through under the posts following a ruck near the line. Again Tom Whelan converted.
Paignton showed their fighting spirit by working their way up field and laying siege to the Sidmouth line. However, once again the home defence held firm against sustained pressure before a penalty enabled them to relieve the pressure.
The Chiefs finished the game on top and added another try in injury time. Just when it seemed an attack had broken down, Tom Whelan changed the direction with a long pass, which found replacement scrum half Matt Goss in space on the right to put the finishing touch.
The Chiefs have drawn Barnstaple at home in the semi-final scheduled to be played on 2nd February.
CHARD 1st XV 50 v SIDMOUTH 1st XV 20
Despite a spirited fight back in the last quarter, the Chiefs slumped to their worst defeat of the season at Chard. The side, with five changes from the previous week, took time to settle. Too many mistakes and poor defensive work by the backs gifted the league newcomers 36 unanswered points in the first half.
Chard took the lead in the sixth minute when the outside centre followed up a grubber kick to gather the ball and dive over near the posts. A few minutes later the same player turned provider, when he made a clean break through the centre in a move finished off by the full back. The influential number 13 scored his second try when he profited from some poor tackling to sprint in from 30 metres to touch down under the posts. And the bonus point came midway through the half when the fly half finished off a fine handling move started on his own 22. He added that conversion to the previous three.
Meanwhile, things had not been all one way. The Chiefs had worked their way into attacking positions but could not retain possession long enough to build up pressure. The best opportunity came when the backs worked an overlap for Chris Higgs, but he was eventually cut off by the cover defence.
Chard added a penalty and a try by the full back, scored in first half injury time after a long period of pressure.
The Chiefs started the second half brightly and an interception by Glenn Channing put them into an attacking position from which Dan Retter opened their account with a drop goal.
Play was pretty even until the middle of the half, when a smart switch of direction opened the Sidmouth defence for the Chard full back to complete his hat trick. The try was converted.
The Chiefs were eventually sparked into life when Glenn Channing broke out of his 22 to start a sparkling move in which he, Alan Hubbleday and Sam Cummins each handled the ball twice before Cummins was eventually hauled down a couple of metres short of the line. Chard managed to scramble the ball away, but Sidmouth remained on the attack. When they won a lineout, Chris Higgs came from his wing to cut through the centre and score under the posts. Dan Retter converted.
Higgs almost scored again from a carbon copy move, before James Powell carried two defenders over in the right corner following a quick tap penalty. Then Higgs eventually got a second try to round off an excellent handling move.
In the closing minutes, the Chiefs pressed hard for a bonus point fourth try, but it was the home team who finished in style with a converted try by the hooker in injury time.
SIDMOUTH 1st XV 19 v OLD REDCLIFFIANS 1st XV 24
Despite fielding a side with eight changes, including two positional, from the side which won at Thornbury, the Chiefs put up a creditable performance against in-form Old Redcliffians to earn a losing bonus point.
The early stages indicated a heavy defeat was on the cards. However, they produced a spirited rearguard action and late fight back inspired by a terrific performance by the backrow trio of Dukes Man-of-the Match Josh Bess, Jack Pyne and Jared Goodson.
Old Reds raced into the lead with 13 points in as many minutes. They had the Chiefs pinned inside their 22 straight from the kick off and after five minutes the fly half dummied his way over under the posts following a ruck near the line. He added the conversion, and followed up with two penalties as his side piled on the pressure.
With their first sight of the ball, the Sidmouth backs showed their potential with a fine move, which stretched the defence before Tom Whelan steadied the boat momentarily with a penalty.
The visitors were soon back on the attack and increased their lead with a try by the forwards from a lineout catch-and-drive play.
The Chiefs fought back with their best spell of the half. The backs and forwards combined to advance the ball 50 metres up field through a series of quick phases until Tom Whelan dummied his way over from 10 metres out. His conversion narrowed the gap to ten points before the Old Reds fly half kicked his third penalty to make the halftime score 10-21.
After the break, the Chiefs found some cohesion, and well-placed kicking by Whelan and Dan Retter kept them going forward. A drop goal by the latter and a penalty by the former gradually reduced the arrears. However, the Old Reds replacement fly half pulled back three points with a penalty midway through the half.
Chris Higgs produced a fine counterattacking run to put his side on the attack and, a few minutes later, was unlucky not to score when the ball rebounded from the base of a post as he followed up fast. He knocked on as he tried to gather an awkward bounce at shin height.
As the half progressed Old Reds enjoyed territorial advantage thanks to a powerful scrum in which they won three against the head in quick succession. Despite a period of sustained pressure, the Sidmouth defence held their discipline and their line intact. When they eventually broke the siege, Dan Retter kicked a penalty to close the gap to four points with just over a minute of normal time left.
There were several minutes of injury time played, which were spent with the Chiefs hammering away at the Old Reds line, but they could not get the winning score and had to be content with just a bonus point.