Promotion in Chiefs' hands now

Paignton's victory over Ivybridge means that the Chiefs will have to settle for the runners up spot and a play-off for promotion from Western Counties West.

Paignton's victory over Ivybridge means that the Chiefs will have to settle for the runners up spot and a play-off for promotion from Western Counties West. However, they will go into the play-off match with a lot of confidence drawn from a very good performance against Devonport Services (see back page).With the forwards finding their best form, the Chiefs had the edge throughout but it took a while for them to get to grips with the wet conditions and slippery surface. With superiority in the scrum and good use of pick and drive tactics, they held territorial advantage for long periods in the first quarter but could not break down the well-disciplined Services' defence.The visitors' main tactical weapons were the boot of their fly half and a battering ram at inside centre. The latter met an immovable defender in Harry Chesterton. The former did inconvenience the Sidmouth defence on two occasions but both Max Hansford and Ashley Cooper tidied up well under pressure.Sidmouth eventually took the lead after 24 minutes thanks to the prolific boot of Dan Retter with a penalty after a Services forward had got on the wrong side of a ruck. A few minutes later Andy Matchett returned a poor clearance kick with interest with a typically powerful 40 metre run. He was stopped just short of the line but Services were penalised at the resulting ruck and Retter kicked a second penalty.Two tries in as many minutes at the end of the half opened up a comfortable lead going into the break. A three-quarter move seemed to be going nowhere until Max Hansford slipped a couple of tackles. Jack Pyne was in support to keep things going before setting up a ruck near the line. The ball was quickly recycled and moved to an overlap on the left where Ashley Cooper finished.The Chiefs were soon back on the attack and, from a scrum just inside the visitors' 22, the Trim brothers combined down the blindside to send Max Hansford in for try number two. Neither try was converted.Three minutes into the second half the Chiefs were down to 14 men when all-action flanker Andrew Eustace was sin-binned for a late tackle. This took some of the steam out of the forward effort and gave Services a chance to regroup. However, the lead was increased thanks to a third Retter penalty.Once restored to full numbers the Chiefs reasserted their grip on proceedings. However, their third try owed something to fortune. A long Dan Retter penalty kick to touch was comfortably over the sideline when the Services' winger jumped up and palmed it back into play. As his feet were off the ground when he played the ball it was quite rightly judged not to be in touch and play went on. Unfortunately for the defender the ball went to a Sidmouth player. A maul was formed which was driven over the line where Dan Trim got the touchdown. Dan Retter converted from the right touchline.In injury time another poor clearance kick gave Andy Matchett time and space to run around two defenders and his well timed pass sent Ashley Cooper in for his second try. The unsuccessful conversion attempt was followed by the final whistle. Andrew Eustace's indiscretion was overlooked by both coaches and supporters who awarded him the Pyne's Bar Man of the Match trophy.

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