Chiefs prepared for life in South West Two
Sidmouth Rugby Club are now three-quarters of the way through their pre-season match programme, writes Terry O'Brien.
Sidmouth Rugby Club are now three-quarters of the way through their pre-season match programme. The results have been very encouraging for the forthcoming season in the South West Two (West) League and reflect the excellent attendance at training.In all, more than 30 players have been used in the three games played and have had the opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the Chiefs' squad for the first league game at Torquay on September 13.The first match was played at the Brickfields home of Plymouth Albion against their reserve side, the Westcountry Wanderers. The home side won 39-17 but the Chiefs competed well against professional opposition and scored three well-constructed tries.Next they travelled to South West Two champions Exmouth and shook the Cockles with an excellent 22-19 win. This performance gave every indication that the Chiefs will be competitive in their new league. On Saturday, they played their first game on the Blackmore. The visitors were Crediton, who will play two leagues lower in the Cornwall and Devon division. The game was played in four 20 minute quarters with a number of substitutions being made. The Chiefs' starting line-up included the former Colts half back pairing of Hamish Martin and Tom Whelan and three new signings: forwards Nathan and Jason Hannay, who have moved over the hill from Honiton, and Simeon Lewry on the left wing. Another new signing Stuart Salway, a hooker who has also made the move from Honiton, played impressively at Exmouth. Two new prop forwards are also due to become available in the next few weeks.Sidmouth 1st XV 31, Crediton 1st XV 0The Chiefs dominated the opening exchanges, playing fast 15-man rugby. Both wingmen had scoring opportunities but were brought down just short of the line by a determined cover defence. The Chiefs eventually opened the scoring shortly before the end of the first quarter when they turned over possession at a ruck just inside the Crediton half. The ball was moved to the blindside where winger Ashley Cooper made the decisive break to send Jamie Wardrop on a clear run to the corner. The try was unconverted.Soon after the restart, another turnover was forced by a crunching Giles Dixon tackle and the ball was moved quickly to space on the left where Simeon Lewry showed a good turn of speed to outpace the cover from halfway for a second unconverted try.The third and best try of the match came just before halftime. Good interpassing by the forwards, with Dan Trim and Nathan Hannay prominent, took play into the visitors' 22. Centre Glenn Channing, playing his first game for more than a year, made further inroads before setting up a ruck. The ball was quickly recycled and Tom Whelan made a half break to put Giles Dixon in under the posts. Whelan converted.The Chiefs took their foot off the pedal in the second half. Perhaps a case of complacency or maybe the number of changes affected continuity. Whatever the cause Crediton dominated territory. However, the Sidmouth defence proved to be resilient and kept a clean sheet. As a bonus they added two breakaway tries from Sam Meadham, who had replaced Jamie Wardrop at full back. The first came from an interception when Crediton had created an overlap near the Sidmouth line. He sprinted 80 metres to score under the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion. Later he was on the end of an overlap after a turnover just outside the Sidmouth 22. Again he touched down under the posts to give Retter a simple conversion kick.Meadham added to a good performance with a try saving tackle at the start of the final quarter. The Chiefs finished the game strongly and were unlucky not to add to their score when Nick Mills touched down following a tap penalty move only to be recalled for a knock on.l On Saturday the squad will be reduced to 21 for the final warm- up game. Launceston 2nds will provide the opposition at the Blackmore, kicking off at 3pm.