Counsell try hat-trick as Sidmouth Under-15s land Devon County Plate triumph

The Sidmouth Under-15 Plate winning team

The Sidmouth Under-15 Plate winning team - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth 22, Ivybridge 3 Sidmouth Under-15s were most worthy winners when they contest the Devon Plate Final with the Bridgers, writes Chris Polley.

Under a rather cloudy sky and with a strong breeze blowing down the pitch Sidmouth took to the field in black. As both teams traditional colours are green and with Ivybridge in the home dressing room Sidmouth borrowed the Devon schools kit for the day. Some of the boys stuck to their passion for wearing a variety of different coloured socks – which whilst not strictly in the rules does help the parents to spot where their boy is throughout the game.

With the wind to their backs Sidmouth started the game with Sam Cavin launching a high ball which the team where quickly up on. The ball was taken cleanly by Ivybridge and moved down the line and out wide. Then with less than 2 minutes played Theo Headon suffered a nasty injury to his wrist that meant he had to be taken to hospital. Once the pack was reshuffled Sidmouth got into their stride and after 5 minutes the forwards earned clean ball and it was worked along the backs to Tom Counsell on the wing who went over in the corner to score. Tom took the conversion attempt from wide out on the wing but was unable to split the up rights leaving the score 5-0 to Sidmouth.

The next 20 minutes saw some nail biting times for those watching as Sidmouth were kept firmly in their own 22. The defence remained strong and whenever Ivybridge looked to have the extra man out wide a strong tackle was always found normally resulting in the Ivybridge player being taken into touch and Sidmouth awarded the line out. Whether it was the absence of Theo or the eagerness of the pack to clear the ball from their own 22 Sidmouth found themselves under added pressure as the pack was penalised a number of times for scrumming down too early. However Sidmouth remained strong and the defence held firm until a well placed kick up field relieved the pressure and Sidmouth were able to play some strong running rugby across the middle of the pitch. Once again Tom Counsell broke free and crossed the line in almost identical fashion to his first try. For the second conversion attempt Sam Cavin stepped up, the kick had the distance but the wind was proving hard to master and the ball slipped past the outside of the post leaving the score 10-0 to Sidmouth.

The remainder of the first half was played at a good pace with both teams enjoying periods of good running rugby and all the boys showing safe hands with good displays of passing all over the field. With the final passage of play Sidmouth conceded a penalty on there own 22 and with the clock on red Ivybridge elected to kick for the 3 points. Lining up to the right of the posts and with the strong breeze straight in his face the Ivybridge number 9 sent the ball goal wards only to see it start off to the left which the wind pushed further wide. This miss saw the first half close at 10-0 to Sidmouth.

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The other areas of note within the first half were a try that was not given to Sidmouth when David Chan went over in the corner and the suggestion of a trip when Tom was looking to chase down a ball he had kicked on. However credit to all the boys as they took these decisions in their stride and continued un-phased to play controlled rugby.

The second half started as the first had ended with both sides playing a high standard of flowing rugby, which was good to see. By this time the teams and supporters for the cup final that was to be played at 3pm had started to arrive swelling the numbers watching and adding to the encouragement being shouted from the side lines.

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Sidmouth then conceded another penalty in the middle of the pitch and with the wind now behind them Ivybidge took full opportunity and brought the score back to 10-3. Now only a converted try behind, Ivybridge looked to up their game in search of an equalising score but Sidmouth dug deep and matched them play for play. Again snuffing out any danger before it had chance to get too close to the try line.

Then with about 20 minutes to play the referee blew the whistle and called his line judges to the centre of the pitch. Coaches, parents and supporters alike where unsure as to the nature of the stoppage until it became obvious the ref was unfit to continue due to a pulled hamstring. He swapped watches with one of his touch judges and bravely hobbled to the side where he continued to run the line for the remainder of the game.

With 10 minutes to play Sidmouth moved the ball out wide on the left where Tom Counsell received it on the wing and looked to run for the corner. However Ivybridge had men to cover and so Tom elected to kick and chase. From the side lines it looked as though the kick was too strong and Tom would not reach it before the ball went dead, but he refused to give up and managed to touch the ball down just in time. This left Sam a tough kick into the wind which he was not able to make but it left the score at 15-3.

Now needing two scores and time running out Ivybridge seemed to tire and the remainder of the game was played mainly in their half. They defended well as Sidmouth looked to close out the game and then with what proved to be the final move of the game Dave Chan received a ball from a penalty to drive over. This moved the score on to 20-3 and with the try being scored under the posts Sam was able to convert for 22-3. As the ball sailed between the posts the ref blew for full time and Sidmouth could start to celebrate a job well done.

As this was the last game of the season for the U15’s it was a great way to end this season. Well done to all the team for a successful year.

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