Friday, April 4, 2014
Sidmouth 20, Cullompton 18
The Chiefs recovered in the best possible way from a record defeat at Camborne to chalk up their first win of 2014 and reclaim East Devon bragging rights, writes Tony O’Brien.
In amazing symmetry with the game at Stafford Park in November, the result was decided by a penalty in injury time kicked by the home team.
Seven minutes after Cullompton had kicked off, and the Chiefs had failed to secure the ball, there was decided air of déjà vu about the home supporters. The visitors had opened up a ten point lead without breaking sweat thanks to a penalty by the full back in the third minute, followed by a converted try from the left winger, when the Sidmouth defence went absent without leave!
However, despite enduring the most challenging of seasons, the Sidmouth players have not lost their spirit. The fight-back was sparked by two splendid long range penalties kicked by skipper Dan Retter, both from wide out on the left near halfway.
With the arrears cut, Harry Chesterton began his man-of-the-match exploits with a break which took play to the Cullompton 22. The forwards took over to build up pressure before Gavin Pearson burst through the first line of defence. The ball was quickly recycled from a ruck and Chesterton made the decisive break for Jevon Astley-Jones to score wide out on the left. The try was unconverted.
With the Chiefs attacking strongly again, the Cullompton scrum half was yellow carded for killing the ball in a ruck. Dan Retter kicked the penalty to extend the lead.
Restored to the full 15, Cullompton finished the half strongly. The full back kicked a penalty and, in injury time, the outside centre scored an unconverted try, when the Chiefs ran out of defenders after a long period of pressure on their line.
Early in the second half, a try-saving tackle by Harry Chesterton on the left winger kept the margin at four points, before the game settled into a midfield war of attrition. Both sides struggled to keep the ball for any length of time or to build up momentum.
The stalemate was eventually broken by another Dan Retter penalty to bring his side to within one point. But this only proved to be the prelude to a period of Cullompton dominance. Play was confined to the Sidmouth 22 with the defence being tested to the full.
The defence held firm, keeping the line intact, and did so without conceding any penalties. Then, with the game in injury time, the Chiefs were awarded a penalty just inside the opposing half and wide out on the left. Dan Retter’s kick rebounded off the crossbar to the dismay of the Sidmouth supporters. But, the players following up to secure the ball and set up a ruck in front of the posts. A defender strayed onto the wrong side and Retter kicked the goal to earn his side a morale-boosting win.
On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Cleve, who are in third place chasing promotion.
At the Blackmore Field, the Quins entertain Tiverton 2nds kicking off at 3.00pm.