Last gasp score gets Chiefs back on track
The Chiefs used their 'get out of jail free' card in Cornwall to keep their promotion hopes on track writes Terry O'Brien.
The Chiefs used their 'get out of jail free' card in Cornwall to keep their promotion hopes on track. If this had been a boxing match the referee would have been justified in stopping it early to prevent further punishment such was the dominance Penryn had up front as the game progressed. But this was rugby and, if you can stay within a score of the opposition, you always have a chance. The Sidmouth defence was outstanding and they took the one vital chance two minutes into injury time. With rain falling steadily, Penryn won the toss and chose to play with the strong wind in their favour in the first half. The majority of play was predictably in the Sidmouth half with the Penryn half backs kicking for position. Any hard fought ground by the Chiefs was soon lost once possession was turned over. Penryn took the lead with a penalty after 10 minutes and increased their advantage with a drop goal seven minutes later. But the Chiefs kept their discipline and the penalty count low. They also tackled well and the back three dealt efficiently with most that was kicked at them though there were a couple of heart stopping moments when the unpredictable bounce of an oval ball went against them. On the positive side, Andy Matchett and Max Hansford in particular produced some powerful counterattacking runs out of defence. One such move, started in the 22, produced an overlap for Scott Davies down the right. He made ground to halfway where a kick ahead as the cover closed in might have been more productive than looking for support. With the conditions unchanged at half time a 6-0 lead did not look to be enough. However, Penryn were determined to make it so and the Chiefs failed to raise their game. The Cornishmen dominated the set pieces winning several scrums against the head and profiting from a number of wayward lineout throws. As a result, despite the wind advantage, the Chiefs were pinned inside their own half for much of the time. Fortunately, with Rhys Thomas and Ollie Pyne leading the way, the Chiefs defended well around the fringes of the rucks and mauls. And the Penryn backs lacked the cutting edge to penetrate outside. On a rare visit to the Penryn half the Chiefs were awarded a penalty and Dan Retter reduced the arrears to three points with 20 minutes to go. But the Penryn forwards kept their stranglehold up front and, as the end of normal time approached, the Chiefs were pinned inside their 22. A penalty relieved the pressure and a long kick produced a lineout just over halfway. Some good driving took play further up field and, when Penryn gained possession, the referee signalled advantage to Sidmouth. A knock on inside the 22 was deemed to be advantage and, two minutes into injury time, the Chiefs had an attacking scrum. They managed to keep it steady long enough for Dan trim to pick up and break to the right. He linked with brother Steve to create a hint of an overlap for replacement wingman Giles Dixon. He sprinted for the corner and went over the line, taking two defenders with him. The referee hesitated for one agonising moment before awarding the try. Dan Retter's conversion from the touchline meant that a penalty would not be enough for Penryn. The drama was not yet over. The referee found another five minutes of injury time in which the Chiefs conceded two penalties and lost a scrum against the head, allowing Penryn to mount a sustained attack. When they eventually lost possession Steve Trim hoofed the ball into the next field and the final whistle followed. This win, and Wadebridge Camels' defeat at Minehead, mean that the Chiefs can finish no lower than second. At least a play off place is guaranteed and one more point from the remaining three games will give them home advantage on April 26. l On Saturday the Chiefs aim to keep their match sharpness with a friendly against Okehampton at the Blackmore kicking off at 1pm. After the match the England vy Ireland international will be screened in the clubhouse. The 'Quins travel to Okehampton. The Colts continue their battle for a top two Merit Table place when they take on Okehampton at the Blackmore, kicking off at 3pm.