Chiefs' late surge
The Chiefs' superior fitness and fighting spirit earned them a first win against Torquay for 25 years.
By Terry O'BrienSidmouth Chiefs 31, Torquay Ath 17The Chiefs' superior fitness and fighting spirit earned them a first win against Torquay for 25 years. In a good team performance, Dan Retter proved the perfect impact player as he came on at half time to score 18 points.Playing down the slight slope with the breeze at their backs, Torquay weathered an early Chiefs' assault before using the elements to pin Sidmouth back into their 22. The pressure brought a penalty which the full back converted to open the scoring. From the restart the Chiefs regained possession and good driving play earned them a penalty in front of the posts. Ben Damen levelled the scores. However, with their half backs kicking for position, Torquay were soon back on the attack and dominating territory. The Chiefs defended well and can consider themselves a touch unlucky to concede a try at the 20 minute mark. The visitors were awarded a penalty close to the line and the number 8 took a quick tap and dived over. He was clearly less than the required five metres out when he took the kick and should have been recalled. The full back added the conversion. The Chiefs can fault nobody but themselves for the second Tics' try. A throw to the back of a lineout always has an element of risk attached and is inadvisable inside a team's own 22, but that is what they did on the half hour. The ball was lost and Torquay had quick ball in an attacking position with the Sidmouth back row out of the game. A missed tackle in the centre led to a try by the left winger. The conversion opened up a 14 point lead.The Chiefs' response was positive and their domination in the closing stages of the half gained them a vital try, and what a good one it was. A move from the base of a scrum just outside the Torquay 22 put Steve Trim into space down the blindside. When he was tackled 10 metres from the line, the ball was quickly recycled and switched to the left. A long cut out pass by Ben Damen found Jamie Wardrop in space and his well-timed pass gave Simeon Lewry a clear run to the corner. The try was unconverted.A brilliant move from the restart almost produced an immediate second try. Andy Matchett, Ollie Derryman and Nathan Hannay combined in a move covering 70 metres before Derryman was brought down a few metres short of the line. The ball was knocked forward in the tackle and Torquay were able to clear to the danger from the resulting scrum, leaving the halftime score at 8-17.A good move by the Torquay backs gave them an attacking position early in the second half. When Liam O'Connor was yellow carded at a ruck near their line, the Chiefs had to defend two consecutive scrums with a man short. They did so superbly with the scrum holding steady and the tackling secure. Eventually, Torquay were penalised and the ball cleared up field.The numbers were evened up when the visitors had a forward sent to the sin bin. Dan Retter missed the resulting penalty attempt but made no mistake with another two minutes later. He was on target again after he had been obstructed from chasing his own kick ahead. The perpetrator became the third player to be shown a yellow card.The Chiefs had an opportunity to use the extra man to advantage when good continuity through several phases created an overlap on the right but a knock-on preserved the visitors' lead.As the game moved into the last 10 minutes, the Chiefs' superior fitness began to tell as they camped in the opposing 22. Torquay seemed to have weathered the storm and broke out to halfway but the ball was turned over at a ruck and a powerful run from the impressive Derryman put the Tics under pressure again. Three rucks later, Dan Retter dummied his way through the thinning defence and outpaced the cover to score under the posts. His conversion opened up a four point lead. This was increased to seven when he dropped a goal at the next attack.Torquay were playing catch up and, when they dropped the ball attempting to run out of their own 22, Damen gathered up the loose ball and slipped it to Tim Phipps who galloped over for an injury time try, which Retter converted to take his side over the 30 point mark.The win puts the Chiefs into sixth position and in sight of a top half finish in their first season of South West league rugby.