Friday, January 17, 2014
Sidmouth 2nd XV 12, Newton Abbot 2nd XV 0
With a fascinating mix of ages on the field, Sidmouth approached this stiff encounter with a determination to make amends for the heavy loss in the away fixture last September, writes Robert Baugh.
From Dan Powell playing in his first senior game at the tender age of 17 to the regular group of ‘wrong-side-of-40’ players, the whole squad joined together in their task. Newton arrived with their usual sizeable and experienced pack together with some athletic looking backs, which confirmed their belief that the afternoon’s result should have been a formality.
The first period had both teams testing each other with Newton Abbot’s size advantage in the scrums being nullified by good work from the front row particularly Tom Reed’s hooking and a strong second row contribution of Rob Cruze and Dan Prettejohn. Newton Abbot looked dangerous in possession, however, Sidmouth’s much improved tackle rate led by excellent work from Martyn Osborne snuffed out any attacks they made. An infringement at the ruck by Newton after 25 minutes gave Sidmouth the chance of the first points of the match but the kick was wayward, so up to 33 minutes despite good efforts by both teams the score was 0-0. The match was then interrupted by a nasty looking injury to the Newton Abbot flanker who broke from a ruck carrying the ball up the wing, on contact saw him obviously in trouble, 40 minutes later an ambulance took the player hospital in Exeter with a broken leg – we wish him the best for a speedy recovery. Half time was called, from the re-start it was Newton Abbot who seemed to have maintained their focus with several forward pick and go forcing their way ever closer to the Sidmouth line until fortuitously they infringed giving Sidmouth the opportunity to clear. Newton regrouped and started a very powerful driving maul deep into the Sidmouth 22 which the Quins managed successfully and legally to bring to a halt – a rare event in rugby these days. Sidmouth took advantage of this success and brought on Dan Powell for Jay Wright at scrum half, Jack Sowden for Rob Cruze at lock and Ryan Davies for Andy Davies in the back row. These fresh legs help re-invigorate Sidmouth who started to exert attacking pressure through some expansive backs moves, Newton were forced back to their try line and after several hard drives Sowden forced over and twisted the ball to the ground, unfortunately for the Quins the referee was unsighted and adjudged it held up, from the subsequent scrum and a couple more picks and go, young Dan Powell spotted a gap and made sure of his debut score.
This try gave Sidmouth the confidence to believe that a win was very much a possibility, resulting in several passage of direct running featuring Ben Pratt, Dom Hawke and Jevon Astley-Jones. Eventually a remarkable run by Jeremy Massey-Birch from full back saw a second try under the posts which, converted by Adam Squance, gave Sidmouth a 12-0 lead with only minutes to go.
Newton Abbot however, refused to give up and started wave upon wave of assaults on Sidmouth’s line, the home side however stood firm and justifiably celebrated the final whistle.
The satisfaction shown by the players at two difficult wins in two weeks was well deserved, as was the Man of the Match pink T-shirt awarded to Martyn Osborne.
On Saturday the Quins meet Brixham at Sidford – another hard test for this group of players, all spectators will be made welcome with free tea and coffee!