Chiefs have to dig deep before securing Devon derby draw

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Rugby generic picture - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs had to draw on all their reserves to salvage a 17-all draw in their derby meeting with Crediton at the Blackmore, writes Terry O’Brien.

Over-confidence seemed to set in after scoring two well-constructed tries. The result was a litany of errors, in terms of both skill and judgement. Crediton capitalised, grew in strength and confidence, and were somewhat unfortunate not to go away with more than two points.

In a match transferred to a Sidford pitch, in perfect condition despite the heavy overnight rain, Sidmouth went straight on the attack from the kick off and took the lead after just three minutes.

Matt Farrington broke from a scrum 10-metres from the Crediton line to link with Johnny Hamill.

The scrum half’s short dart drew in the midfield defenders and, when the ball was quickly recycled, a long pass found Ben Pratt in space to race in at the left corner. The try was unconverted.

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Despite playing into the breeze, the Chiefs continued to enjoy territorial advantage, although mistakes were beginning to creep into their game.

A strong run by Tom Seward, followed by quick recycling had the defence back-peddling. Quick handling sent Matt Farrington sprinting in at the corner for a second unconverted try.

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To their credit, Crediton heads did not drop and, as the Sidmouth error count rose, they began to exert pressure and a good handling move had the defence at full stretch.

When the Sidmouth backs dropped the ball trying to run out of their own half, the fly half scooped it up and burst into the 22 before sending his inside centre in under the posts.

The outside centre kicked the routine conversion.

In first-half injury time, the Chiefs tried to run the ball out of their own 22 and again the ball was lost in contact.

A penalty was conceded trying to retrieve the situation and the successful kick tied the scores at the break.

Now full of confidence, the visitors tore into the Chiefs from the restart, pinning them into their own half.

Without Josh Bess, the Chiefs were too dependent on Ollie Pyne in the lineouts, making it easy for Crediton to counter and spoil. Also, the Sidmouth scrum began to come under pressure.

Crediton camped inside the Sidmouth 22 until the hooker forced his way over from close range. The conversion gave them a deserved seven-point lead.

The Chiefs got the wake-up call and sharpened their game but could make little impression against determined opponents, who could smell a badly-needed victory.

With five minutes to go, they produced a move that cut open the defence. Ethan Mead came from the blindside wing at a scrum on halfway.

In a set move, he took an inside pass through the fly half/inside centre gap.

A combination of agility and pace took him clear to touch down in the left corner.

Having missed twice from a similar position, Dan Retter’s conversion bisected the uprights to level the scores.

In injury time, a Dan Retter penalty attempt from just inside his own half rebounded from the crossbar.

Disappointing for the Chiefs, but Crediton deserved to go away with something for their spirited performance.

On Saturday (March 17) the Chiefs travel to Chard for a game postponed from March 3.

The Colts travel to Exeter Saracens in the second of their Plate semi-final play-off games.

There is no fixture scheduled on the Blackmore Field, but the clubhouse will be open to show all of the final matches in the Six Nations Championship on the big screen.

The bar will be open from noon and a beef and Guinness pie and a pint will be available for £5.

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