Line out skills put Chiefs under pressure

The Chiefs’ winning run was brought to an end on their first ever visit to Chippenham. The well-organised Wiltshire side ruthlessly exposed the weaknesses of the Sidmouth side, which, in turn, failed to adapt to meet the challenge.

The Sidmouth scrum, once again, proved to be competitive at this level and created problems for the opposition. Tight head prop Matt Farrington was at the vanguard of this effort and thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award. However, the lineout was a shambles from which Chippenham looted a wealth of bonus possession. All five of the home side’s tries came from lineout ball.

Playing into the wind in the first half, the back three failed to adapt their positioning. They were frequently turned by well-placed kicks and forced to concede large amounts of territory, as well as an attacking lineout.

When the initial kick off was dropped inside the Sidmouth 22, Chippenham gained the early initiative. They soon held a six point advantage thanks to two penalties kicked by the fly half. The first try came in the 12th minute following a lineout near the Sidmouth 22. A long pass put the full back in space to put the left winger away for an unconverted try.

The Chiefs eventually shook off the long coach journey and came close to scoring a try of their own.

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Andrew Dare made the initial break, and strong runs by Jack Pyne and Sam Richardson took play into the 22. When the ball was quickly recycled from a ruck, Dan Retter broke through the retreating defence before being brought down a couple of metres short of the line.

The promising position was lost when a penalty was conceded, allowing the ball to be cleared up field.

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Using the wind to good advantage, the home side regained the initiative and added a second try when the scrum half dived over after the pack had driven a lineout maul to the line. The fly half added the conversion.

Try number three followed in injury time when the outside centre made a break before sending the right winger over in the corner. The conversion made the score 25-0 at the break.

With the wind at their backs, the Chiefs made a promising start to the second half, creating two try scoring opportunities. Sam Richardson made a long break from a scrum in his own half, then Ollie Pyne produced a storming run to return a 22 drop out with interest.

Neither move was developed to fruition, but the pressure was rewarded with a Dan Retter penalty.

In the middle of the half, both defences, in turn, were sternly tested, but remained intact. The Chiefs held up a lineout catch and drive and survived a couple of five metre scrums. Then the home side had two players yellow carded in quick succession, both for tackles on Steve Trim after he had taken quick tap penalties.

The Chiefs hammered away at the depleted defence but could not find a way over the line. Chris Higgs and Tom Hodge combined well following a missed touch kick, but the latter was brought down just short of the line. Then a lineout maul was held up on the line.

When the Chippenham forwards turned over possession at a ruck, they broke out of their 22 and a long kick up field put them on the offensive. The outside centre scored in the corner after a lineout maul and a series of rucks had taken play to the line. In injury time, the tiring Sidmouth pack were driven back following another lineout catch-and-drive. They stopped it just short of the line, but the ball was recycled for the right winger to force his way over in the corner. The final whistle followed the unsuccessful conversion attempt.

?On Saturday, the Chiefs entertain Wadebridge Camels, who gained promotion from the Western Counties League via the play off system, 3pm.

The Quins travel to play Devonport Services 2nds in the Merit Table. The 3rd team entertain a touring side from Dudley Kingswinford. The kick off at Sidford is at 3pm.

The Colts do not have a game.

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