Sidmouth Chiefs start year with victory at Paignton

PUBLISHED: 15:56 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:56 07 January 2018

Sidmouth 2nds away at Honiton. Ref shsp 48 17TI 3808. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth 2nds away at Honiton. Ref shsp 48 17TI 3808. Picture: Terry Ife

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Sidmouth Chiefs started 2018 as they left off in 2017, with a win, travelling to Paignton on the first Saturday of the new year and returning with a 40-26 success, writes Terry O’Brien.

Queens Park has not been the scene of much success for Sidmouth since the advent of league rugby in 1987 and they were delighted to come away with a bonus point victory. This makes it seven league wins on the trot and nine in all since the beginning of November. The record book will soon be consulted.

The Chiefs kicked off into a biting, diagonal wind but an early penalty enabled Paignton to kick them selves into an attacking position. They duly won the resulting lineout and kept possession through many phases but could not find a way through the Sidmouth defence. Eventually they had to be content with a penalty kick by the scrum half.

Sidmouth regained possession from the restart kick and showed that they too could build through many phases. They progressed to within five metres of the line but a knock on brought the move to an end.

Paignton cleared the ball temporarily, but the Chiefs were soon pressing inside the 22 once again.

This time they took the lead, when Sione Livai picked up at the base of a ruck 10 metres out and drove forward taking two defenders over the line with him. The try was converted by Dan Retter.

The Chiefs continued to control the game, with Livai, and backrowers Josh Bess and Tom Seward putting in strong runs over the gain line.

From a ruck in the middle of the 22, Rory O’Brien and Ben Pratt made breaks before sending Ethan Mead over in the left corner for an unconverted try.

A long-range Dan Retter penalty increased the lead before a resurgence from the home side, who were gaining the upper hand in the scrums. They nibbled away at the Sidmouth lead with two more penalties.

The Chiefs reasserted themselves with a splendid try in injury time. They turned over possession on their own 22 to set up a handling move involving many pairs of hands. The move was eventually stopped a few metres short of the try line, but the referee awarded a penalty against a defender. Josh Bess took a quick tap and dived over. Dan Retter converted from wide out to give his side a 25-9 halftime lead.

Paignton started the second half as they did the first, exerting pressure in the Sidmouth 22. The Chiefs were soon reduced to 14 men, when Sione Livai was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

Despite the disadvantage, the Chiefs held their line intact until they were able to clear upfield, where they soon scored a bonus point try with a real team effort. The forwards progressed the ball through many phases into the Paignton 22 before releasing it to the backs.

Ben Pratt made a half break at outside centre, which gave Ethan Mead enough space on the left wing to sprint in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Any complacency at the score-line was quickly dispelled when the Paignton inside centre crashed over under the posts after a long period of pressure. The try was converted.

A Dan Retter penalty gave his side some respite before Paignton were back on the attack and again reduced the arrears with a tap penalty try by the scrum half, who also converted. Minutes later, he kicked a penalty to close the gap to seven points with ten minutes to play.

The Chiefs collective character was under test and not found wanting. They were soon pressing on the Paignton line. After a series of pick-and-goes had sucked in defenders, the ball was moved to the backs with an overlap on the right for Rory O’Brien run in and Dan Retter to add the conversion.

Paignton finished the game strongly in pursuit of a losing bonus point and the final whistle went with play a few metres from the Sidmouth line.

On Saturday (January 13) the Chiefs entertain league leaders St Ives. The kick-off at the Blackmore Field is at 2.30pm.

The Quins travel to play South Molton 2nds.

The Colts play Bideford Colts at Sidford kicking off at 2.30pm.

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