Chiefs ready to start league season

Sidmouth travelled to Honiton for their final warm-up game in preparation for the league season, which starts on Saturday, writes Terry O’Brien.

They arrived with a large squad, but with a handful of key forwards missing. The former proved to be their undoing after a promising first half. However, frequent changes during the second period proved disruptive against a more cohesive and determined opposition.

Sidmouth started strongly, playing up the Allhallows Field slope, and in the third minute Will Dunford was stopped just a metre short of the line after the forwards had driven a lineout maul to the line.

Play continued mainly in the Honiton half during the first quarter but it took a move of the highest quality to break down the home defence. Midway through the half a Will Dunford break was carried on by Tristan Beavis and Jason Luff to a ruck deep inside the Honiton 22. The ball was quickly recycled and moved to an overlap on the left for Chris Higgs to finish off. The try was unconverted.

As the half progressed, Honiton began to exert pressure in the Sidmouth half, but they were met with a determined and well-organised defence. Their best scoring opportunity came from a counterattack on the half hour but a fine tackle by James Powell kept his line intact.

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Powell went from saviour to creator in the first minute of the second half, when he joined the line in his own half to break through. A hand off on a covering player put him clear to draw the full back and send Chris Higgs in for his second try. Again the conversion was unsuccessful.

Ten minutes later Sidmouth paid the penalty of trying to run the ball out of their own 22.

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Honiton pounced on a dropped ball and camped on the Sidmouth line. Eventually the fly half jinked his way over from close range for a try he converted himself.

As Sidmouth interchanged their players through the half, their play became increasingly ragged, the more so when Will Dunford was forced to leave with a leg injury. The fly half had made an influential contribution.

Despite increasing Honiton pressure, the Sidmouth defence stood up well.

In the end Honiton profited from Sidmouth errors, rather than defensive lapses, to score two late tries.

A speculative kick should have been dealt with but was hacked on by an attacker, who followed up to win the chase for the touchdown.

The same player scored in similar fashion when the ball was dropped in the Sidmouth 22. Both tries were converted.

?On Saturday the Chiefs open their league campaign when they entertain Clevedon. The kick-off is at 3pm.

Before that the Colts will raise the curtain at the Blackmore when they take on Exeter Chiefs’ Colts kicking off 11.45am.

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