Close run Avonmouth clash

Sidmouth 1st Xv 14pts, Avonmouth Old Boys 17pts

The Chiefs can claim to be unfortunate to have lost their third consecutive league game in this close-fought encounter with promotion hopefuls Avonmouth Old Boys. Twice penalty attempts rounded from the uprights, denying them vital points. However, they will also reflect on a failure to make good use of a following wind in a first half, which saw them trailing 3-5, writes Terry O’Brien.

Avonmouth started strongly, recycling the ball at pace to stretch the defence. The Chiefs stood up to the test, and showed good discipline, before a penalty enabled them to clear the danger and work their way into an attacking position. They should have scored from a move down the blindside of a scrum inside the opposing 22, but a handling error saw the chance disappear. However, the pressure was eventually rewarded when Tom Whelan kicked a penalty.

A smart piece of covering by Barney Goss saved a dangerous situation midway through the half. The wingman chased back to fall on the ball near his line and quickly clear the ball into touch despite the close attention of two opponents.

Avonmouth took the lead on the half hour when the ball shot out of the side of a Sidmouth scrum. The number six scooped up the loose ball to start a move which was finished off by the outside centre. The try was unconverted.

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The Chiefs finished the half strongly and came close to regaining the lead when a Tom Whelan break created room for Barney Goss, but he was bundled into the corner flag before he could touch down. Whelan also had a penalty attempt rebound the wrong side of the upright just before half time.

Avonmouth started the second half as they had the first and it took a fine man-and-ball tackle by Jamie Wardrop to prevent them using a big overlap. However, they soon extended their lead with a well-constructed move by the backs. The blindside winger came across to cut in between the centres to create a try for his fellow wingman.

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The Chiefs almost struck back immediately, but another Whelan penalty attempt rebounded from a post. A powerful Jack Pyne run took play back into the Avonmouth 22, where his side were awarded another penalty. This time the kick bisected the posts to cut the arrears.

The Chiefs conceded a soft try, which would prove to be decisive, when the defence went awol. The Avonmouth number 8 fielded a missed touch kick on halfway and ran back, exchanging passes with his full back before diving over in the left corner. The conversion opened up an 11 point lead.

Another Tom Whelan penalty closed the gap before a fine handling move created an overlap on the left, but the final pass went to ground. Jamie Wardrop fielded a kick on halfway and linked with Sam Cummins who made further ground before the ball was switched to the left. The ball was moved quickly to Sam Meadham on the wing, who outpaced the cover. The try was unconverted, but the Chiefs had earned a losing bonus point.

The Sidmouth Hotels Man of the Match was Ben Turner.

On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Thornbury for a match rearranged for a second time. A win would ease them clear of the relegation dog fight .

At the Blackmore the Quins entertain Bideford 2nds.

The kick off will be at the slightly earlier time of 2pm to allow players and spectators to watch the England v Wales match on the big screen in the clubhouse. The international kicks off at pm.

The 3rd team travel to Bideford.

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