Chiefs edged out in terrific Devon Cup tie with Bideford

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to St Ives. Ref shsp 04-17TI 5914. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to St Ives. Ref shsp 04-17TI 5914. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs were knocked out of the Devon Senior Cup by the narrowest of margins in an exciting and entertaining quarter-final match against Bideford from the South West league, a tie that the visiting side won 32-31, writes Terry O’Brien.

The visitors experience of playing at a higher league level just gave them the edge, particularly in the forwards. However, Sidmouth can count themselves unlucky to have lost Frank Helmer from the front row before the game even started due to injury in the warm-up, and influential number eight Ollie Pyne during the first half.

A yellow card for fellow back rower Gavin Pearson midway through the second half proved to be the turning point as Bideford piled on 15 points during his time in the sin bin.

The Chiefs made a perfect start to open the scoring in the second minute, when they won a lineout just outside the Bideford 22.

The forwards set up a maul and drove forward 20 metres before releasing the ball to the backs. The initial move was stopped but, when the ball was recycled from a ruck, Tom Whelan found a gap to run in a try, which he also converted.

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Bideford spent the next ten minutes inside the Sidmouth half without threatening the line. When they dropped the ball on the Sidmouth 22, James Powell scooped it up a set off on a run down the right touchline before passing to Rory O’Brien, who ran in near the posts. Tom Whelan added the extras.

Bideford were soon back on the attack and enjoying a long period of territorial advantage. The pressure was eventually rewarded when the number eight powered his way over from a five metre scrum. The full back added the conversion.

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The lead was cut to just two points with an unconverted try, when the Bideford pack drove over from a lineout catch-and-drive play.

The Chiefs restored a seven point margin in first half injury time with a good team try. Forwards and back combined to work the ball through several phases, before Rory O’Brien found a gap and touched down for his second try.

Early in the second half, the Chiefs extended their lead from a lineout, when the backs worked a set move to bring Luke Wells-Burr into the line from his wing to cut through the centre. He was eventually tackled just short of the line but Gavin Pearson picked up and drove over from a subsequent ruck. Tom Whelan converted.

Bideford went on the attack from the restart kick and Gavin Pearson was yellow carded for handing in a ruck in front of the Sidmouth posts. Bideford opted for a scrum and pushed over for the number eight to touch down. The conversion was a formality.

The Bideford full back kicked a penalty before his side showed that they could also score on the run. The full back fielded a loose clearance kick to start a move in which the ball went through several hands before the number four touched down.

A similar unconverted try scored by the full back opened up a six point gap, leaving the Chiefs needing a converted try to win with a minute left on the clock.

In injury time, a superb multi-phase move created an overlap for Ben Salter to dive over in the left corner but Tom Whelans touchline conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts.

On Saturday the Chiefs resume their league campaign with the visit of Wellington to the Blackmore Field. The kick off is at 3pm.

The Quins travel to Paignton and the Colts are at Exeter Saracens.

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