Match Reports

SIDMOUTH 1st XV 25pts v WADEBRIDGE CAMELS 1st XV 22pts

The Chiefs have come through a tough opening to their Tribute South West One West league campaign with nine points from two wins on the road at venues where they shipped a total of 61 points last term. They came from behind at Wadebridge to record a narrow victory thanks to some desperate defence in the closing minutes, aided by the home side’s decision to go for a win rather than settle for a draw.

The game within a game was the battle to contain the rampaging runs of the influential Wadebridge captain. The powerful number eight certainly won round one when he stormed over for a try from close range in the third minute following a lineout near the line. However he was kept firmly in check for the remainder of the game by the combined efforts of Sam Richardson and Matt Goss in a pincer movement at the base of the scrum, where he was frequently knocked over behind the gain line.

In the broader picture, the Chiefs struck back with an equalising try five minutes later. A crunching tackle by Tom Seward knocked the ball loose to produce a turnover just inside the Wadebridge half. A fine piece of inter-passing down the left wing was finished off by Dan Trim.

Wadebridge dominated much of the remainder of the half thanks to a stiff diagonal breeze in their favour. They scored eleven unanswered points in the next 25 minutes with two penalties by the fly half either side of an unconverted try by the left winger on the end of a good handling move.

Tom Whelan closed the gap with a penalty following good breaks by Matt Goss and Jack Pyne to set up the position. His opposite number replied immediately with his third successful kick before the Chiefs finished the half strongly with a concerted assault on the home line. They failed to force their way over but Whelan kicked a penalty on the stroke of halftime to make the score 11-19.

The Chiefs were slow to take advantage of the conditions, and it was several minutes into the half before they were able to exert pressure inside the Wadebridge 22. Tom Whelan was brought down a couple of metres short of the line before Matt Goss pounced on a loose ball from a scrum to dive over. Unfortunately the referee had spotted another Sidmouth player offside. Goss was close again as he followed up a kick ahead but the ball just beat him to the deadball line.

Eventually the pressure paid off thanks to two moments of inspiration from Tom Whelan. First a dummy and sidestep took him through the first line of defence following a scrum 40 metres out. With both the full back and blindside winger out of position, he outpaced the cover to score near the posts. A few minutes later Tom Seward came off his wing to burst through the middle and into the 22. When he was stopped the ball was quickly recycled and Whelan dummied his way through a disorganised defence for a second try. He converted both to open up a six point lead.

The Wadebridge fly half closed the gap to three points with a penalty in the last minute of normal time. There followed fully 13 minutes of nerve-tingling injury time, as a combination of a comedy of errors and a tiring scrum opened the door for an onslaught on the Sidmouth line. Wadebridge were awarded three very kickable penalties, but decided to go for a try and the win. They were denied by a determined defence.

Sidmouth RFC Quins (21) v Crediton RFC 2nds (15)

Saturday September 3rd 2011

Sidmouth kicked off their first home game of the 2011/12 season and should have taken the lead in the opening minute; but an easy three points were stupidly neglected in favour of a tap penalty. The visitors made no mistake with their first opportunity taking an early lead through a penalty before missing another minutes later. This was as good as it got for the visitors, as they did not manage to score again until the dying minutes. Crediton did have the better of the early stages, both possession wise and territorially, but could not break down the stubborn Quins’ defence. The Quins’ did have a few early trips in to the Crediton half but to no avail.

The game stagnated for periods with both sides seemingly intent on knocking the ball on, conceding turnovers and conceding penalties. Both sides created a couple of half chances but lacked the composure to finish them off to full effect. After another spell of scrappy play in the middle third of the field, the momentum of the game shifted considerably in favour of the home side. This was due to the referee sending a Crediton player to the sin-bin. Unfortunately the penalty attempt by James Powell was off target. The Quins’ did not have to wait long to have their noses in front; Scott Davies adding the finish to a good counter attack down the grandstand touchline, involving Tom Seward. The conversion attempt by Powell was successful, which opened up a four point lead. Despite the best efforts of both sides the score remained the same going into the interval.

The Quins’ made a couple of changes at the interval; both tactical and positional. Replacement flanker James Perry made his presence felt at the break down and in the loose carrying the ball well on a number of occasions. The Quins’ extended their lead further early in the half through a Seward try. The centre broke through his opposite numbers tackle to touch down to the right of the posts. Powell was again on target with his conversion. Moments later the Quins’ almost scored what would no doubt have been a contender for try of the season. Following a turnover metres from their line the Quins’ began a flowing move up the hospital touchline that almost went the distance. Unfortunately the final pass was knocked on over the Crediton line, much to the disappointment of the home support. The Quins’ almost scored from the resulting scrum too, but the referee adjudged otherwise allowing Crediton to clear. The Quins’ pressure, persistence and patience did eventually tell; with a second try for Davies following another break by Seward. Powell again converted well to open an 18 point lead. The Quins’ continued to dominate the proceedings and at times played some good free flowing rugby with forwards (especially the back row) and backs linking well, as well as putting in the hard yards when necessary.

The Crediton side did come back into the game in the last ten minutes scoring two tries; albeit one very debateable score according to the home side. The Quins’ defence obviously tiring after a succession of pick and drives by the visiting forwards. The score at the final whistle flatters Crediton if truth be known as the Quins’ outplayed their guests both in attack and defence for long periods and could have scored a lot more than they did. May be it was just down early season nerves or over-enthusiasm or perhaps the Quins’ were just clinical enough, which is something they must be against the stronger teams if they are to succeed; only time will tell.

SIDMOUTH 1st XV 29pts v CHOSEN HILL FP 1st XV 9pts

A strong performance by the pack paved the way for this bonus point winning start to the Chiefs South West One West league campaign. The side from Churchdown, near Gloucester, have been a tough nut to crack on their own ground. Among their promotion-chasing victims have been Brixham and Newton Abbot, so this result was no mean achievement.

The home side kicked off down the slope and took the lead in the third minute with a penalty. However the Chiefs forwards put down a message of intent with a strong drive at the first scrum, and followed it up with an unconverted try from a lineout catch-and-drive maul touched down by Rhys Thomas.

A couple of minutes later Sidmouth were reduced to14 men when Tristan Beavis was yellow carded for an illegal tackle. Before he could return, there was further disruption when Thomas had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Andrew Doidge, but his lineout throwing was badly missed.

Chosen Hill regained the lead with a second penalty as they used the slope to advantage, keeping the Chiefs pinned inside their own half. Once restored to a full 15 the Sidmouth backs produced a fine move to send Chris Higgs racing up the right wing to take play into the opposing 22, where Dan Retter restored the lead with a penalty.

The game became stop/start with a series of injuries, and the Chiefs lineout problems prevented them from maintaining attacking positions. The only other score in the half was a third penalty by the Chosen Hill centre to give his side a slender one point lead at the break.

Two minutes after the restart Barney Goss followed up a Tom Whelan kick to score a fine opportunist try as the bounce went in his favour. Dan Retter added the conversion. The score seemed to settle a few nerves and the Chiefs began to play some flowing rugby with backs and forwards combining well. They kicked a penalty to the corner but the attempted lineout maul was stopped just short of the line. However, when they were awarded another penalty near the line Dan Retter shaped to kick for the corner again, but instead took a quick tap and sent Dan Trim charging at the unsuspecting defence. He forced his way over the line and Retter converted to open up a comfortable lead.

The Chiefs dominated the final quarter, but could not break down the stubborn home defence. The forwards drove a maul from outside the 22 to within a few metres of the line but were penalised. The backs put together some promising moves but could not finish them off. Eventually the bonus point fourth try came in injury time as Chosen Hill tried to run the ball out of defence. Dan Retter intercepted to run in unopposed and touch down under the posts. His conversion was followed by the final whistle.

SIDMOUTH 1st XV 31pts v WELLINGTON 1st XV 14pts

There is work still to be done, but the management and coaches will be pleased with the preparation for the league campaign, which starts next week. Despite seven changes from the team which beat Okehampton, six of them in the forwards, this was a definite step up in performance. Combine this with the 2nd Team’s 45-10 win, and the fact that a number of contenders have yet to play, competition for places will be very keen.

Playing down the slope, with a stiff cross-field breeze, the Chiefs started strongly. Breaks by Sam Meadham and Tom Hodge gave encouragement, and the Wellington forwards were forced to defend two lineout catch-and drive moves in the opening minutes. Both made progress but were stopped a metre short of the line.

Against the run of play, Wellington took the lead on the quarter hour thanks to an interception and some smart support play. The Sidmouth backs had a three man overlap, but a loose pass was caught by an opposing centre and the counterattack was finished off by the left winger. The try was converted by the fly half.

The Chiefs struck back immediately when the forwards regained possession from the restart and drove on through a few phases before releasing the ball to the backs. Tom Hodge broke through the centre and found Tom Whelan in support to score under the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion to level the scores.

The Goss brothers combined to produce try number two. Scrum half Matt kicked into the box and brother Barney, on the right wing, followed up to charge down the full back’s attempted clearance kick. He gathered up the loose ball to touch down a try which Retter converted.

Just before halftime came the try of the match. The forwards won the ball from a Wellington lineout near their own line. With the opposing backs lying deep, Dan Retter got his backline moving. Sam Meadham made ground down the left wing before kicking ahead over the covering defenders. He re-gathered the ball before sending Barney Goss in for his second try. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the halftime score at 19-7.

Despite playing up the slope, the Chiefs built up a winning score with two tries in quick succession. Sam Meadham finished off a move down the blindside of a scrum inside the Wellngton 22. The wingman then followed up a kick out of defence to catch the full back in possession near halfway. The ball was turned over in the resulting ruck and a good move by the backs was finished off by Tom Whelan with a try he converted himself.

The Chiefs will be disappointed with the last quarter in which they lost concentration to some extent and conceded a soft try when a Wellington forward latched on to a loose ball to drive over following a lineout near the Sidmouth line. That said, they might have scored three times themselves with bit more luck and precision.