Chiefs put firmly in their place
Sidmouth’s position in the South West league pecking order was firmly established by this defeat to a very a good Brixham side, which is sure to be in contention for a promotion spot as the season unfolds.
Quite simply, the Fishermen had an edge in most aspects of the game. Of particular concern for the Chiefs will be their inability to counter the Brixham driving maul, and some weak first-up tackling, which allowed attacks to build momentum too easily.
That said, they showed tremendous fighting spirit, and no little skill of their own, to keep themselves in contention as the game entered the final quarter, when they scored an outstanding try.
The Chiefs kicked off into the breeze and, after resisting early Brixham pressure, took the lead with a Dan Retter drop goal in the eighth minute. But they were soon back defending on their own line, where the right winger crossed in the corner. However, the referee spotted a forward pass and, instead, awarded a penalty which the fly half kicked to level the scores.
Brixham took the lead after 15 minutes with a smart opportunist try. The full back fielded a clearance kick just inside his own half and kicked back into the Sidmouth 22. The ball bounced kindly for him as he followed up. Tom Hodge recovered to make the tackle, but the scrum half was in support to finish things off. The try was converted.
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Dan Retter reduced the arrears with a penalty after his own break, following a ruck which gained field position. Two minutes later a last ditch tackle by Tom Hodge prevented a certain try when a Brixham handling move had swept 50 metres up field. The Sidmouth line came under intense pressure, but the defence held firm before a clearance kick gave a brief respite.
From a well controlled lineout catch-and-drive, the Brixham forwards took play back to the Sidmouth line. There was more heroic defence before the left winger dived over from close range after a series of rucks had left the blindside unmarked. The try was unconverted.
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A second Dan Retter penalty closed the gap to 9-15 at half time. The Chiefs were still in contention and an early score after the restart would have put the home side under pressure.
However, the game changed decisively in Brixham’s favour when Sam Richardson was sent to the sin bin five minutes in. He had entered a driving maul from the side, preventing release of the ball. From the resulting penalty the fly half kicked to the corner. Another well-executed catch and drive produced a try for one of the forwards. The conversion deflected over from an upright.
A few minutes later they went for a repeat after another penalty had been kicked to the corner.
This time the Chiefs won the lineout and cleared the danger. Then, restored again to a full 15, they scored an excellent try. The backs found a bit of space in front of them and Tom Seward made the initial break at outside centre. He timed his pass perfectly to Sam Meadham on the left wing. He still had plenty to do as he straightened his run before swerving outside the full back and just managed to squeeze over in the corner. The try was unconverted.
Any hope of recovery the Chiefs had disappeared with a second yellow card. This time it was skipper Steve Trim, guilty of killing the ball in a ruck near his own line. Brixham again opted to kick for the lineout. And, again, they caught and drove for the line. This time they were held up but had drawn in enough defenders to create an overlap for the right winger to score and secure a bonus point for his side.
The lead was extended when the hooker burst over from a ruck on the line. The conversion completed the scoring. There was enough time for the Chiefs to launch an attack, but, despite five minutes of pressure in the Brixham 22 they could not add to their score.