First Devon Cup triumph for Sidmouth u-13s team
Sidmouth under-13s confirmed that they are the best of the 26 teams in Devon this year, by winning the Devon Cup final at Plymouth Albion s Brickfields ground.
Sidmouth under-13s confirmed that they are the best of the 26 teams in Devon this year, by winning the Devon Cup final at Plymouth Albion's Brickfields ground.
Thankfully, the heavy showers abated and allowed a game of incredibly high standard to proceed.
Sidmouth's task initially seemed immense against an unbeaten Devonport Services' side with their forwards at least three inches taller and half a stone heavier per man than Sidmouth's pack.
Sidmouth, undaunted were up for the challenge and started at a phenomenal pace.
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Devonport's backs were caught completely off guard from the first scrum. Quick hands in the Sidmouth three- quarters sent lightning fast left winger Alex Dunn over in the far corner, to ignite the large crowd.
Sidmouth's pack were holding their own and soon produced plenty of ball for their backs. Unfortunately, centre Olly Blyth was having one of those halves you wish to forget and gave an interception try away just as Sidmouth were starting to dominate. Devonport were frustratingly ahead 7-5. Sidmouth did not panic, sensing they were by far the better side and, despite the loss of captain Theo Boalch to a knee injury, they slowly clawed their way back into the Devonport half. Openside flanker Bryn Henrickson was all over the Devonport fly half and charged him down twice to give Sidmouth great field position. Number eight Gavin Pearson picked up and drove aggressively from a scrum to set up a series of pick and drives by half of Sidmouth's pack. Eventually, Devonport ran out of cover and hooker Connor Male, another man on a mission, dived over for a well deserved reply. Sidmouth led 10-7 at the break.
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Right from the restart Sidmouth were determined to assert their superiority. Olly Blyth, back to his normal self, seized his moment, accelerated up two or three to fly past the cover to go in under the posts. Isaac Radford converted. Olly then touched down on his next foray but it was disallowed by an unsighted ref.
He then zig zagged through a forest of forwards to put Alex Dunn in for his second try to take the score to 22-7. Devonport attempted to counter with a kicking game, but Sidmouth full back Harry Shayler was security personified. Sidmouth began pinging the ball everywhere.
Olly Tollerfield on the right wing saw plenty of ball, and was unlucky not to score on a number of occasions. He chased every kick as if his life depended on it.
Sidmouth's forwards then produced a glorious period of controlled possession. Ben Stokes and James Bramley rucked and counter rucked the opposition out of the game.
Sidmouth's scrum performed superbly, even winning one against the head, thanks to strong performances from Johnny Youngman, Will Oswald and Patrick Lee. The lineout also worked beyond Sidmouth's wildest dreams. Towering Sidmouth centre Finn Cawthera was moved into the line outs to counter Devonport's height advantage.
Finn, with Gavin Pearson and Jack Sowden, unexpectedly secured more than 50 per cent possession, against a pack of lighthouses. Sidmouth's concentration lapsed only once near the end, with a Devonport 22 metre kick not defended adequately. This led to an exciting finish with a consolation try for Devonport's biggest forward.
Unphased, Sidmouth expertly ran down the clock, with hooker Tom Reed coming off the bench to good effect.
Special mention must go to Jay Wright, who came on as a reserve and had an awesome game at scrum half.
Man-of-the-Match was chosen by the Devon RFU officials and unanimously went to Sidmouth fly half Isaac Radford, who controlled the tempo of the match superbly. His kicking out of hand was long and accurate, remarkably so in a difficult wind, and he launched his backs superbly. Connor Male took the Man-of-Steel award for a faultless display at hooker, which included catching four kick-offs and a barn storming performance, capped by a fine try.
A big thank you must go to replacements, Chris Aplin and Damon Morris, who, unfortunately, didn't get onto the pitch, and must have been bitterly disappointed but did not show it.
The exceptionally vocal travelling support, Janet and Julia especially, boosted the lads at crucial moments and totally drowned out the opposition.
Thanks to the dads and brothers who literally put their bodies on the line in training leading up to the match and Sidmouth Hockey Club, who kindly let us use their astro turf during the recent deluges.
The day ended on a wonderful note when the boys sat down with the opposition to a formal dinner, which included an excellent speech by captain Theo Boalch.
This Sunday sees the team compete in a sevens festival, at Brixham.
This, unfortunately, prevents us from watching the under-15s in their plate final, at Sandy Park.
We wish them good luck.
Devon Cup Final
By Don Blyth
Devonport Services 14,
Sidmouth under-13s 22