Last gasp goal gains promotion
Sporting drama doesn't get any better than the amazing comeback which secured the Chiefs a place in South West League Two for next season. The 700 spectators lining the Blackmore certainly got full value for their admission fees, writes Terry O'Brien.
Sporting drama doesn't get any better than the amazing comeback which secured the Chiefs a place in South West League Two for next season. The 700 spectators lining the Blackmore certainly got full value for their admission fees, writes Terry O'Brien..The Chiefs found themselves seven points down with just five minutes of normal time left of a high quality, fast paced, energy sapping encounter. Somehow they summoned up the inspiration and skill from tired minds and bodies to first draw level and then win with the last action of the game. Sidmouth kicked off in perfect conditions and showed a clear intent to move the ball wide at every opportunity to test their mobility against the bigger Old Reds' pack of forwards. The tactic gave them territorial advantage but no score despite promising runs by Ashley Cooper and Tristan Beavis. When the first scrum eventually came, the visitors' pack at last had the opportunity to exert their weight advantage and show the quality of the their play. A strike against the head midway through the half enabled the number 8 to initiate a move which covered 40 metres and almost produced a try but for some excellent cover defence. The Chiefs replied soon after with a similar effort following a quick tap penalty. First Andy Matchett then Cooper got within five metres of the line.During this passage of play the Old Reds' flanker committed an offence which earned him a spell in the sin bin. The Chiefs made the best of the extra man by taking the lead. Andy Matchett joined the line from full back to punch through the midfield and set up a ruck inside the Old Reds' 22. The ball was quickly recycled to an overlap on the left where Ashley Cooper rounded the full back well to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful. After a fine cover tackle by Harry Chesterton had snuffed out a dangerous move it was Sidmouth's turn to incur the wrath of the referee. Liam O'Connor was yellow carded for an offence spotted by the touch judge. Old Reds immediately capitalised on the advantage. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and a catch and drive move ended with the number 3 forcing his way over. The conversion gave them a 7-5 halftime lead.O'Connor was reinstated a few minutes after the restart but was quickly followed into the bin by Dan Retter who was guilty of a dangerous tackle. The resulting penalty was converted to open up a five point lead. This was soon cancelled out by a similar effort by Harry Chesterton deputising in the kicking role.Ten minutes into the half there occurred what seemed for a long time to be the critical action of the game. The Chiefs took a quick lineout throw near their 22 but a long pass was intercepted and the Old Reds' right winger scored an unconverted try.The Chiefs battled back and, after a series of rucks in the Old Reds' 22, Jack Pyne was on the end of an overlap to score in the left corner to reduce the lead.As the game went on the Chiefs looked the fitter side and more likely to score. However, on a rare visit to the Sidmouth 22, Old Reds kept possession well through several phases until the Chiefs eventually ran out of defenders and the outside centre scored wide out on the right. The conversion attempt drifted wide but with only five minutes left this looked to be a decisive score.The Chiefs had other ideas and, when replacement flanker Phil Spenser stole an Old Reds' lineout throw on halfway, it gave the backs a bit of space. A dart by Harry Chesterton caused uncertainty to the defence and Tristan Beavis took advantage to cut through a gap. He timed his pass to Ashley Cooper perfectly but the wingman still had much to do. His outside run just beat the cover defence for a touchdown in the left corner. Dan Retter chose the perfect moment to land his first kick of the game as he bisected the uprights to level the scoresFrom the restart kick the Chiefs decided to keep the ball in hand rather than kick for ground. This had the advantage of keeping possession but ran the risk of conceding a penalty and probably the game. However, they gradually worked their way out of the 22 then towards halfway and out of kicking range. As they tired, the Old Reds' resistance lessened. Once they had worked their way far enough into the opposing half, the ball was moved out to Dan Retter who launched a drop goal attempt from 35 metres. As the ball approached the posts the cheers of the crowd signalled that it was straight enough but was it long enough? As it just crept over the bar the cheers became a roar which drowned out the final whistle which immediately followed the referee's signal that the kick was good.The Pyne's Bar Man of the Match was Tim Phipps sponsored by Dean and Dyball.The celebrations went on long into the night. And when the hangovers clear it will be time to start planning for a level of rugby the club has not experienced since the introduction of the leagues 20 years ago.Pictured left : Dan Retter gets the ball away. Pic: Alex Walton. ref. 1804-18-08AW and below ref. 1795-18-08AW.Turn to page 55.