Ended season with a whimper

Paignton 1st Xv 43pts,

Sidmouth 1st Xv 3pts

Having avoided relegation, the Chiefs finished their league campaign on a decidedly downbeat note with this heavy defeat, which also ensured Paignton’s survival, writes Terry O’Brien.

There is no doubt that Paignton approached the game with more urgency than Sidmouth, and deserved to win. However, the Chiefs had plenty of possession, and exerted enough pressure, to have made the margin much more respectable. They failed to take their chances near the line, and turned down a hatful of penalty opportunities.

The Chiefs started well with the forwards driving the ball towards the Paignton 22, but twice, when the Paignton backs got their hands on the ball, they produced ominously sweeping moves deep into Sidmouth territory. It was no surprise when they took the lead after 10 minutes. The outside centre met little resistance when he ran straight, following a five metre scrum, to touch down under the posts. The scrum half added the conversion.

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Further good work by the Sidmouth forwards was rewarded with a Dan Retter penalty, which was quickly cancelled out by a drop goal from the home fly half. Two tries in quick succession put Paignton in the driving seat with an hour still to play, one converted.

The next 10 minutes was all Sidmouth. Two consecutive penalties were kicked to the corner where lineout catch-and-drive moves failed to produce a score.

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An interception by debutant centre Josh Salter opened up an opportunity, but the cover defence got back to close the danger. Martin Keywood, Tristan Beavis and Sam Richardson all had promising runs before another penalty opportunity was turned down in favour of a kick to the corner. This time a peel was attempted, but the ball was lost and cleared downfield, where Paignton increased their lead with a penalty. Half time arrived with the score 3-25.

The Chiefs started the second half in promising fashion. The forwards drove a maul to the line where Sam Richardson forced his way over but could not apply downward pressure.

Play quickly switched to the other end where Max Hansford did well to cover and clear the ball following a well-placed long kick. However, the “Cherries” gradually added to their lead with a penalty, drop goal, and converted try.

The Chiefs dominated much of the final quarter. With Paignton conceding a series of penalties inside their 22, the referee lost patience and brought out the yellow card. Despite the extra man, Sidmouth could not find a way through a well organised and determined defence. Max Hansford, Sam Richardson, Ben Halford and Jack Pyne all made promising breaks but the line remained intact.

Eventually, Paignton broke out to score a fifth try in injury time as the number four ran onto the ball at pace to force his way over. The unsuccessful conversion attempt brought proceedings to a close.

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