Sidmouth secured a hard-earned 21-15 win at Cullompton and were grateful to a late try-saving tackle for the victory, writes Terry O’Brien.

In a game of two halves, the first 40 was, for the most part, fought out between the 22 metre lines. Both sides made mistakes and neither threatened to score a try.

Sidmouth scored two penalties in quick succession in the middle of the half, both kicked by fly half Jake Smith. Cullompton replied with a penalty kicked by their fly half just before half time.

The Chiefs made a strong start to the second half with a good handling move to set Rory O’Brien on a run down the left wing deep into the opposing 22. When the ball was released to Jake Smith, he launched a long diagonal kick, which bounced favourably for Haydon Down to gather and touch down for a try. Jake Smith added the conversion.

The Chiefs took control and soon added a second try by Shaun Malton on the back of a lineout catch-and-drive. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but Jake Smith soon added a third penalty.

When the Chiefs failed to control the ball from the restart kick, the balance of the game changed, as they began to concede penalties allowing Cullompton back into the game. They did well to defend against two five metre lineouts, but another penalty put them under pressure again.

The Cullompton forwards progressed the ball through many phases, narrowing the Sidmouth defence until a long pass found the left winger in space to score in the corner. The try was unconverted.

The kick off went straight into touch giving Cullompton a scrum and a platform to get back on the attack. Another penalty was kicked to the corner where they set up a maul. As it approached the line, it was collapsed, and the referee awarded a penalty try. Shaun Malton was yellow carded.

Cullompton were soon back on the attack and, in the last minute, a try-saving tackle by Dan Retter saved his side from potential defeat.

On Saturday, the Chiefs travel to Chard, where a win will see them rise to the top of the league. On the Blackmore Field, the Colts take on Crediton.