Late revival not enough for Sidmouth Chiefs

Sidmouth paid the price for failing to take the Devon Senior Cup seriously. For the second season running the Chiefs have travelled to Astley Park with a much changed team to contest the county’s premier knock out competition. Last time it was due to players making themselves unavailable, this time the decision lay with the selectors.

With eight changes, the first half hour was spent making introductions, by which time Brixham had scored four tries and the game was over as a contest.

The one positive outcome of the selectorial tinkering was the emergence of scrum half Josh Doughty, a newcomer to the club, whose introduction at half time livened up proceedings markedly. His sense of urgency and swift service gave the side some go-forward, which deserved to produce more than the one consolation try.

The opening stages offered no clue as to the onslaught which was soon to follow. Play was confined around the halfway line, with both sides making a catalogue of basic errors, despite the perfect conditions for rugby.

However, when the Brixham fly half kicked a penalty to the corner in the 10th minute, a sense of d�j� vu descended. As in the previous week’s encounter, the Sidmouth forwards had no answer the Brixham maul. They caught and drove over with ease for the opening try, which was converted from wide out.

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This put the Fishermen’s tails up and three more tries followed in quick succession. A 60-metre counterattack was finished off by the inside centre. The full back was up in the line to score after scrappy lineout possession had been turned into an attacking opportunity. Then the left winger ran over in the corner, after the Chiefs had run out of defenders when the ball had been advanced from the Brixham half through several quick phases. One of the tries was converted.

The mayhem was punctuated by one bright moment for the visitors, when Dan Retter kicked a penalty after a Sam Richardson run had set up a series of forward drives into the Brixham 22.

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At last the Chiefs settled, or perhaps Brixham took their foot off the pedal. Either way the game became more of a contest for the final 10 minutes of the half, during which both fly halves kicked penalties to make the half time score 6-27.

Changes were made during the break, and Brixham dominated the opening spell after the restart as the Chiefs regrouped. However, once Doughty had asserted himself, the Chiefs began to buzz, and the Fishermen were forced to defend. With the ball being transferred quickly from the breakdowns, the backs suddenly had space, but could not find the finishing touch.

When a breakaway put Brixham back on the attack midway through the half, they showed how to convert position into points. From a five metre scrum, they exploited a weakly marked blindside to put the winger in at the right corner.

The Chiefs showed their fighting spirit as they forced their opponents back into their 22 and harassed them into a series of mistakes.

A charged down kick was pounced on by Dan Retter to create a simple run in for Sam Meadham on the left wing. The try was unconverted.

Fired on by this success, the Chiefs went back on the attack. The Brixham defence survived under severe pressure and, when they turned over possession near their own line, a long kick and chase produced an opportunist try for the left winger. The fly half added the conversion from the touchline.

The Chiefs continued to battle hard, but Brixham had the final score. When they won a scrum against the head on the Sidmouth 22, the scrum half broke and won the chase for his own grubber kick to the corner. Again the conversion was good from a wide angle.

The Chiefs now go into the Senior Vase, and are due to travel to Cullompton on February 26.

?On Saturday the Chiefs entertain Chosen Hill Former Pupils. The Gloucestershire side inflicted Brixham’s only league defeat so far, and so are sure to provide tough opposition. The kick off at the Blackmore is at 2.30pm.

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