Sidmouth Chiefs took a big step towards the top of the table with a hard-fought 17-14 win against local rivals Crediton, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs made a strong start, keeping Crediton pinned inside their own half for much of the first 15 minutes and eventually took the lead following a diagonal kick by fly half Jake Smith. The Crediton winger looked favourite to catch the ball but failed to do so and Rory O’Brien benefitted to get the touchdown. Jake Allen converted from wide out on the left.

Following the restart, Crediton began to assert themselves with their backs looking sharp, but Sidmouth defended well, turning over possession on a couple of crucial occasions near their line. In first half injury time, Jake Allen kicked a penalty to make the halftime score 10-0.

Five minutes into the second half, Crediton hit back when a poor Sidmouth clearance kick failed to find touch. The opposing full back fielded the ball and linked with his winger, who cut infield, wrong-footing the defence to sprint in under the posts for a converted try.

Midway through the half, the Crediton forwards worked the ball through phases to the left-hand side of the field. When the ball was released to the fly half, he kicked the ball back to the right, where the winger was unmarked. He caught the ball and strode over for his second try. The fly half converted from the touchline to put his side ahead.

The Chiefs fought back with great determination. The forwards drove a lineout maul almost to the line, where Crediton were penalised. The ball was kicked into the corner and the Chiefs went for the catch-and-drive again.

They were held up before working the ball through many phases across the field and back to the middle before releasing the ball to the backs, where Tom Hodge ran a good line to cut through for the crucial try. Jake Allen’s conversion gave them a three-point lead.

The closing minutes were tense, with both sides making mistakes. With time running out, Crediton were awarded a penalty 35 metres out but the kick to level the scores drifted just to the right of the upright.

On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Cullompton. The Quins play Cullompton 2nds at Blackmore, kicking off at 2.30pm.