Sidmouth 10, President’s XV

A large Boxing Day crowd were treated to a highly competitive and entertaining game as the Chiefs made it two wins out of two over the holiday period, writes Terry O’Brien.

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Both teams defied the energy-sapping muddy surface to play open fifteen-man rugby, spurning penalty kicks at goal in the search for tries, which did not come until deep into the final quarter.

A strong squad had been assembled for the President’s team, which included former Chief’s Tom Whelan, Sam Richardson, Ben Turner, Ollie Pyne and Sam Meadham, who all now play for National league clubs. However, this only inspired the Chiefs to raise their game.

The Chiefs had the better of the early stages as they rocked back the scratch team with the ferocity of their tackling and rucking. Christian Goddard, Sam Sowden and Dan Colson all came close to scoring, but the defence of the President’s XV held them out until they gradually began to gel and assert themselves.

Long tactical kicking by Tom Whelan, together with strong chasing, gained territory, but, when they opened out, they were met with some forthright defending. They did manage to release Sam Meadham on a few runs up the left wing, but he was well dealt with by the cover defence.

The match remained scoreless when the whistle signalled half time.

After the restart the game moved from end to end but the stalemate continued until fatigue began to set in and openings started to appear. And it was Sidmouth who were looking the more dangerous. A good handling move set Tom Seward on a run, which took him close but not over the line. Then, with the President’s on the attack, a turnover gave the Chiefs an opportunity to counterattack. Quick handing found Zak Bess in space on the right and he took play deep into the opposition half before the ball was switched back to the left. Tom Seward kicked into space behind the cover defence and James Powell followed up to scoop up the ball and dive over for the opening score. The try was unconverted.

Straight from the restart kick, with their confidence high, the Chiefs launched a splendid handling move involving backs and forwards to take play deep into the opposing 22. Then from a lineout the ball found Sam Sowden at the back. He drove for the line, but was stopped just short. When the ball was recycled, Steve Trim found Tim Phillips in space on the blind side and the young hooker drove over to score his first try for the club. Again the try was unconverted.

With a number of replacements having been introduced in the middle of the half, the President’s XV finished the game strongly as the Chiefs tired. Despite the fatigue, they defended with great determination for several minutes, but eventually Luke Mingo forced his way over for an unconverted try.

The Chiefs played out the final couple of minutes comfortably for a morale-boosting victory.

These two hard-fought wins will give the Chiefs some confidence as they go into the New Year battling against relegation. They have 13 games to overhaul an 18 point deficit, or 15, if Wadebridge Camels appeal against a five point deduction is unsuccessful.

On Saturday the Chiefs entertain promotion contenders North Petherton, who are currently in third place. The kick off at the Blackmore is at 2.30pm.

The Quins and the Colts both travel to Devonport Services.

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