Sidmouth Chiefs upset form book with an inspired team show

PUBLISHED: 10:50 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:50 28 November 2017

Sidmouth 2nds away at Honiton. Ref shsp 48 17TI 3837. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth 2nds away at Honiton. Ref shsp 48 17TI 3837. Picture: Terry Ife

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Sidmouth Chiefs upset the form book and continued their move away from the league basement with an impressive 26-24 victory over a Devonport Services side that began the day sitting top of the Tribute Western Counties West table, writes Terry O’Brien.

Fielding their strongest team of the season so far, the Chiefs produced a performance full of commitment and purpose. This was most evident in the final 15 minutes, much of it played with 14 men, as Services nibbled away at their lead.

Services started the game strongly and took the lead after just three minutes.

They worked the ball through several phases before moving it to an overlap on the right. The winger seemed to be well covered, but some hesitant defence gave him enough space to cross in the corner. The try was unconverted.

Sidmouth were undaunted and were soon exerting pressure in the opposing half. When they turned over possession on the 22 metres line, the ball was moved quickly to the open. Luke Wells-Burr joined the line in the centre at pace and beat three defenders on his way to the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.

When the Services full back fielded a kick just inside his own half, he evaded two would-be tacklers to set up a handling move, which was finished off by the right winger diving over for his second try. Again, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

The Chiefs went straight back on the attack. When Sione Livai ripped the ball from an opponent in a maul, he broke away on a powerful run, which was eventually stopped a few metres from the line. The ball was quickly recycled and moved along the line for Ethan Mead to dart over in the corner. Dan Retter converted.

A good handling move set Ethan Mead on a run down the left into the 22. The forwards took over, picking and driving through a series of rucks attempting to drive over the line. This created space on either side, which was ignored, and when they conceded a penalty, the chance was lost. However, the pressure was eventually rewarded with a Dan Retter penalty.

In first-half injury time, a Services forward peeled off a driving maul near the Sidmouth line to drive over for a third unconverted try to make the score 17-15 at the break.

Sidmouth had the better of territorial advantage in the third quarter, during which the lead was extended thanks to two more Dan Retter penalties before his opposite number kicked one to keep his side within one score.

Dan Retter made it six successful kicks out of six before Services made a strong bid for victory. With his side under severe pressure, Tom Seward made an important try-saving tackle and Services had to be content with a penalty for their efforts.

The Chiefs were reduced to 14 men, when Jack Pyne was yellow carded for handling in a ruck. Then, the Services fly half kicked another penalty to reduce the margin to just two points with ten minutes remaining.

The closing minutes were nail-biting but they managed to hang on for an important victory.

On Saturday the Chiefs travel to play Falmouth.

On the Blackmore Field the Quins entertain South Molton 2nds kicking off at 2.30pm.

The Colts play Exeter Youth Colts at Sidford with a 2.30pm kick off.

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