Thursday, March 27, 2014
Sidmouth 14, Exmouth 63
The score on the board doesn’t matter, the tired aching bodies don’t matter, there’s three minutes until the final whistle and the Quins are under their own posts having just conceded another try, writes John Hamill.
Stuart Bickerstaff, injured and unable to play, but still leading by example exhorts the players for one final effort ‘it’s for your pride, our pride and for the pride of Sidmouth Rugby’ he says. The players, some struggling for breath, and all feeling the effect of the previous 77 minutes, plan their move – a high re-start from Adam Squance, aggressively followed through by the back row, several picks and go from the forwards and then battle across the line.
To score a try from the position they found themselves in at this stage of the game required teamwork, courage and determination from all!
The game restarts with Squance’s kick, high and hanging; Damon Morris and Xenon Kearns, both new to a Quins shirt, pursue the catcher, the ever-present Tom Reed bundles him to the floor, the ball is ripped from him and Sidmouth start the pick-and-go routine. It begins with Chris Pike in his first game of the season making a few hard fought yards, then Anthony Martin playing this match out of position in the back row making a few more before releasing it to Mark Osborne who, injured and hurting, battles onwards. The ball comes out and Damon Morris gets it away to captain Ben Pratt who makes his own hard yards before off-loading to the power running of Giles Dixon, another ruck and still the ball is with Sidmouth. Now it’s the forwards again, Roger Goulding forces his way forward with Rob Cruze at his side, the ball makes its way into the hands of Moray Boscence another player Sidmouth are glad to see back in the colours, who maintains the forward momentum. Now again it’s out for the backs, Sam Smith in only his second appearance for the Quins and again out of position straightens and passes onto Bobby Taylor-Crofts who hasn’t played in four years and yet makes his own yards. Sidmouth now with their tails up maintain the pressure, just a few yards to go, Josh Ledger comes forward to add some width and speed and again there’s support from Dixon. A penalty is given to Sidmouth and a quick tap from Damon Morris gets the drive forward underway again into the eager hands of Martin and then Goulding and with a final flurry the line is in sight and Ben Pratt goes over to score the team try of the season. Squance stepped forward and deftly stroked the ball between the uprights – the plan had been executed!
The reaction from players and coaches alike was one of joy, despite the lack of players Sidmouth could field, despite the huge on and off the field resources of Exmouth, this group of players had, through determination and hard, hard work achieved what they had set out to do three minutes earlier!
The Quins first try was again a team effort with the backs getting the ball to within 10-metres of the try line, the forwards then took over with Anthony Martin finally driving over close to the posts, Adam Squance adding the extras.
This has been a tough season for all Sidmouth teams and it is moving towards its conclusion.
The Club can be proud of the team ethic and commitment of those players who week in and week out have faced much bigger, more experienced and better resourced opposition. The coaching teams equally feel the pressures of matches such as Saturdays but all can take comfort from the words of Sidmouth’s chairman, Mark Seward on Saturday night: “This is hard to take for all of us, but I am hugely proud that no Sidmouth team gives up or takes a step backwards. We will learn and improve through these experiences and be a better Club in time because our courage and commitment is strong, and that will see us through”.