Exmouth 2nd XV 36, Sidmouth 2nd XV 14

Just as Burt Lancaster and Fruitgum’s squad must have arrived at Twickenham on Saturday morning with little hope of success, so the management team of Sidmouth Quins arrived at Exmouth in a ‘damage limitation’ frame of mind, writes Robert Baugh.

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Yet the team, featuring the core of established Quins players that had won two games in a row, had other ideas in mind and were not fazed by Exmouth’s top of the table position nor the fact that the Cockles had yet to lose this season!

From the kick-off Sidmouth’s players exceeded the efforts of their international counterparts by playing some sparkling rugby.

With Exmouth on the back foot, quick hands by Sidmouth saw Rory O’Brien, fresh off the plane from New Zealand, forcing his way across the line for a well-deserved try. Adam Squance took the conversion and with only five minutes gone Sidmouth were 7-0 ahead (eat your heart out England!). The lead was soon cancelled out when the home side’s flanker drove to within five-metres, the ruck ball was taken over for a converted try.

Thus the game evened out and Sidmouth showed the determination in defence and ambition in attack to force the home team to work for any territory or points they achieved. Ben Salter playing at scrum half for only the second time was hugely influential with sniping runs, box kicks and secure service to the equally impressive Ben Pratt playing at 10.

The Quins forwards, working hard, gained parity at the set piece with the back row of James Salter, Gavin Pearson and Ryan Davies all very effective in frustrating and deterring the Exmouth attacks.

Exmouth began to exert their superior size and resources and with a neat chip over the Quins line, and a perfect bounce, their centre scored under the posts for the lead by seven points and again just on half time, out wide.

The half-time score of 19-7 flattered the hosts but reflected their better game management. With the benefit of some words of wisdom at half time both to the referee and the Sidmouth team the second half showed Sidmouth remaining confident. From the restart Quins pressure achieved a penalty award 10-metres out, a quickly tap and good angles of running saw Rory O’Brien go over for his second try with Adam Squance converting again.

As in first half Exmouth responded immediately with a lucky try where the Exmouth player juggling the ball close to the try line and managing to score with the ball behind his back!

With injuries to key players and without the deep resources of Exmouth, Sidmouth conceded two more tries in the last quarter but left the field with justifiable pride in their endeavour.

The day was well summed up by club captain Dan Retter’s later Facebook comment of: “impressed by the boys today” – short and sweet, but oh so true!

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