Chiefs on the brink of fantastic performances
Another exciting and entertaining game at the Blackmore saw the Chiefs, once again, stage a fine comeback and hold on for their seventh league win of the season.
Superiority in the set pieces proved to be the decisive factor in the end, but coach Max Hansford will be wondering what he has to do to get the side firing from the first whistle.
The Chiefs found themselves trailing after just one minute. The ball was knocked on from the kick off and Chosen Hill scored from a move down the blindside of the resulting scrum on the 22. The open side flanker put the finishing touch and the fly half converted from wide out. From the restart kick, the visitors conceded a penalty and Dan Retter kicked the goal to reduce the arrears.
Chosen Hill continued to dominate the opening stages and increased their lead in the eighth minute, when the fly half burst through a tackle to score under the posts following a ruck near the line. He added the conversion.
The Chiefs were still trying to find the right gear, but managed to chip away at the lead thanks to two more Retter penalties, both from the halfway line.
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His opposite number cancelled one of them out before Sidmouth produced their first bit of cohesive rugby as the game entered the second quarter. A good handling move by the backs followed by powerful driving forward play was rewarded by a fourth Retter penalty.
When the visitors’ prop was yellow-carded for entering a ruck on the wrong side, the Chiefs launched a concerted attack. However, a promising move ended in a score at the other end, when the talented Chosen Hill number 10 intercepted and ran in from his own 22. The conversion opened up a 12 point gap.
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Despite being a man short, Chosen Hill came close to scoring again when their backs combined well. The cover defence prevailed and a penalty enabled the Chiefs to clear up field.
At last the Chiefs began to use their superiority in the set pieces to exert pressure.
When Sam Richardson took a quick tap penalty, his driving run sucked in defenders. The ball was quickly moved to an overlap on the left and Sam Meadham outpaced the cover to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Another Chosen Hill penalty followed, before Meadham scored again in injury time, this time a fine individual effort.
The forwards drove a lineout maul 20 metres into the visitors’ half before the ball was released to the winger on the blindside. He showed a good turn of pace before chipping ahead, over the covering defenders, and following up to catch and finish in the corner. The conversion attempt drifted wide to leave the half time score at 22-27.
The Chiefs tore into the opposition from the restart and were rewarded with two more Retter penalties in quick succession to put them ahead for the first time. In the process Chosen Hill lost their number eight to the sin bin for handling in a ruck in the red zone.
The Chiefs worked their way back to the try line where they were awarded a scrum five metres out. They drove forward but Chosen Hill collapsed the scrum to prevent the pushover. The Chiefs chose to scrum again, and again the scrum went down. This time the referee awarded a penalty try, which Retter converted. They capitalised on the one man advantage again, when Jack Pyne crashed over from close range after Tom Whelan had made the running at the end of a good move by the backs.
It was Sidmouth’s turn to play a man short, when Tristan Beavis was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
They elected to keep eight forwards and one short outside.
This backfired when Whelan came up from full back to defend in the centre. The alert Chosen Hill fly half kicked into the space to camp his side on the Sidmouth line.
The Chiefs defended well, but eventually conceded a try and the conversion closed the gap to six points.
The Chiefs were soon defending desperately again until a clearance kick relieved the pressure.
They played out the closing minutes in the opposition half.