Mayhem for Chiefs as Hartpury run riot

On the evidence of this performance, the Chiefs are destined for a season-long battle against relegation.

On the evidence of this performance, the Chiefs are destined for a season-long battle against relegation.

Their defensive frailties were cruelly exposed by the pace and confidence of the talented students. Too often the defensive line was disorganised, leaving gaps and overlaps where there should have been none. There were also too many missed tackles. Hartpury are a very good side, and a handful under any circumstances, but this was made too easy for them.

To compound the problem, the Chiefs were badly out scrummaged, giving the students a strong platform to launch their attacks. Otherwise the Sidmouth eight performed well, winning a good share of lineout ball and competing effectively in the loose.

Nathan Hannay gave another authoritative display and was well supported by Callum Hill, Steve Wallace and Stuart Bickerstaff in particular.

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The Chiefs got off to the worst possible start when they lost possession at a ruck in the first minute, allowing Hartpury to launch an attack from the halfway line. A break through the centre was well supported by the open side flanker who scored wide out on the left.

Sidmouth might have equalised immediately, when a similar turnover and quick handling found Andy Matchett in space on the right wing, but the referee failed to play advantage, giving a penalty against the visitors.

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Hartpury increased their lead when the right winger cut a good angle to score following a ruck near the line. Then the Chiefs began to compete well through the middle of the half and cut the deficit with two long-range penalties by Glenn Channing.

The students reasserted themselves on the half hour with an excellent try. When Sidmouth were slow to follow up a kick, they launched a counter-attack to take play from their own 22 into an attacking position where the ball was quickly recycled from a ruck and moved to an overlap for the left winger to score in the corner.

A few minutes later, the right winger sliced through to score after a set move from a scrum on the halfway line. The fly half kicked his first conversion to make the halftime score 6-22.

A minute after the restart, Glenn Channing kicked a third penalty but the students scored their fifth try when the left winger finished off a move from a scrum on the Sidmouth 22. Channing kicked a fourth penalty to keep his side in touch for a few moments before Hartpury took complete control.

They scored four tries in the next 15 minutes, with both wingers completing their hat tricks, the number 7 scoring his second and a second row powering over from a tap penalty move. Two of these were converted.

In between this mayhem, the Chiefs might well have scored when Glenn Channing intercepted a loose pass, but a knock on brought the move to an end. However, the Chiefs did eventually get a consolation try when Tom Whelan kicked them into an attacking position from a penalty. The forwards set up a maul from the resulting lineout and made progress before releasing the ball into the open. After a series of rucks near the line, Will Finch dived over in the right corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

The students regained control to score two more tries with the flanker completing his hat-trick after charging down a kick, and the full back finished off a move started in his own 22. He added the conversion with a drop kick to end the game.

l On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Ivybridge badly in need of a win to restore confidence.

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