Sidmouth 0, Chard 24

Pack power paved the way for Chard’s victory on a muddy pitch in wet and windy conditions, which neutered the potential threat from the Sidmouth back line, writes Terry O’Brien.

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In a carbon copy start to the previous week at St Austell, the Chiefs were penalised in the opening minute and the Chard fly half kicked for touch in the corner. The Chiefs did well to resist the driving maul from the lineout and a subsequent five metre scrum. However, Chard kept them pinned inside the 22. The Sidmouth defence was resolute until the 10th minute, when another lineout catch-and-drive was successfully driven over the line for an unconverted try.

With the wind in their favour, Chard were soon back on the attack, keeping play mainly in the Sidmouth half. The Chiefs defended well with the back row to the fore. Rhys Thomas was frequently first to the breakdown to steal or slow down the ball. The Chiefs made the occasional foray into Chard territory as they pressured the opposition into mistakes. Strong running by Dwight Pansegrouw, Jack Pyne and Tom Seward gave the supporters something to cheer, but it was all too easy for Chard to regain control through their dominant pack and the accurate boot of the fly half.

Sidmouth did well to keep their line intact until late in the half, when another lineout maul was driven over for a second unconverted try.

With the halftime score restricted to 0-10 and the wind in their favour after the break, the Chiefs hopes were very much alive. Good kicking by Dan Retter and James Powell kept Chard in their own half for much of the third quarter. The strong running of Dwight Pansegrouw and Tom Seward troubled the defence, but the Chiefs were unable to sustain pressure near the line.

As the half progressed, the wind dropped away and Chard reasserted their authority. The score, which ended any lingering Sidmouth hope, came midway through the half. A poor clearance kick enabled the full back to launch a handling move down the thinly defended Sidmouth left. The move was finished off by the number three and the fly half converted well from wide out.

As conditions deteriorated in heavy rain, Chard scored a bonus point try through their number eight at the base of a pushover scrum. The conversion completed the scoring.

On Saturday the Chiefs entertain Bideford in a game they must win to keep alive hopes of a move up the table towards safety. The kick off at Blackmore is at 2.30pm.

The Quins travel to Barnstaple for a rearranged Merit Table game. The Colts are away to Exmouth Colts.

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