Paignton 2nd XV 17, Sidmouth 2nd XV 7

Sidmouth seconds were beaten on their visit to the South Devon coast on Saturday, writes Robert Baugh.

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According to the dictionary there are two types of shower.

The first is ‘a fall of rain or sleet or snow accompanied by wind’, the second is ‘washing under a spray of (usually) warm water’.

Sidmouth Quins made the 71-mile round trip to experience considerable amounts of the first type and a complete absence of the second!

Needless to say it was a dispirited group of players who arrived back in Sidmouth, cold wet and very dirty having had the added affront of playing a well organised Paignton outfit.

Nonetheless despite the postponement of Sidmouth’s 1st XV match against North Petherton the Quins arrived in Paignton with the usual group of stalwarts and also included some colts to give them experience of senior rugby.

The start of the match was delayed by a windswept referee to allow a series of squalls to pass, but, once underway, both teams battled against surface water, wind and driving rain and surprisingly managed to play some half decent rugby!

With the wind behind them Paignton kept Sidmouth back in their half for the majority of the first period, attempts by Ben Pratt and Cam Grainger to kick clear usually resulted in the wind bringing the ball back towards the kicker. Paignton’s well drilled forwards kept bearing down on Sidmouth’s line until the pressure told and Paignton scored two tries, converting one.

After initial difficulties the Sidmouth pack worked hard, with the starting front five of Tom Irish, Mark Osborne, Tom Reed, Beau Henrickson and Roger Goulding all committing to both the set piece and fieldwork. In the conditions lineo-uts were a lottery, but Sidmouth held their own thus allowing some playable ball to the backs.

Early forced changes saw Stuart Bickerstaff moved to centre and Neil Barratt in as hooker however Sidmouth seemed to raise their game and began a period of sustained pressure but unfortunately without any points. As the half came to the end Paignton, somewhat against the run of play, touched down for another unconverted to take a 17-0 lead into the break.

Sidmouth faced the second half with some optimism as they anticipated help from the weather and also were motivated by the realisation that they were playing what appeared to be a team from a higher level.

The weather however, had different plans, with the gusting winds and driving rain giving way to just a winter’s afternoon, meaning Paignton didn’t have to battle to make any forward progress.

The Sidmouth three-quarters began to stretch their legs and with two exciting breaks showed that the game wasn’t beyond them. A fine run by Stuart Bickerstaff cutting through the middle of Paignton’s defence was halted 10-metres short; a series of forwards drives saw Beau Henrickson peel away to score Sidmouth’s try under the posts, Cam Grainger adding the extras making it 17-7 with 20 minutes to go.

Sidmouth kept probing and looking for another score but were denied by some scrambled defence. With further enforced changes of players resulting in uncontested scrums the momentum was lost and the game slowed to a very muddy, wet and cold conclusion. With quick handshakes all round both sets of players set off at speed to the anticipated warm and plentiful showers only to discover there were none. As Sidmouth’s Captain Stuart Bickerstaff was heard to mutter – ‘the perfect end to a perfect day!’ With the coveted pink Man of the Match T-shirt justifiable awarded to someone who, under the mud, looked like Mark Osborne the Sidmouth contingent headed home to clean up, warm up and drink up!

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