Proved their mettle against high-flyers

The Chiefs gave league leaders Taunton a fright as they raced into an early 13-point lead and it was not until midway through the second period that the semi-professional Somerset side's superior power and pace enabled them to take control

The Chiefs gave league leaders Taunton a fright as they raced into an early 13-point lead and it was not until midway through the second period that the semi-professional Somerset side's superior power and pace enabled them to take control. Sidmouth kicked off in dry, breezy conditions and opened the scoring in the third minute with a splendid try which shook the home crowd. Ashley Cooper and Jamie Wardrop combined in a move down the right touchline which took play into the Taunton 22. Dan Trim drove over the gain line to set up a ruck from which the ball was quickly recycled and moved to the backs. Harry Chesterton made a trademark break to set up a try for fellow centre Tristan Beavis. Dan Retter added the conversion against his old club.A word out of turn by the Taunton number 8 gave Retter a chance to increase the lead which he did with a well struck penalty. Then, from the restart kick, Andy Matchett snapped up a loose ball to make good ground before kicking ahead into the 22. Taunton were penalised trying to retrieve the situation and Retter kicked a second penalty.It was all Sidmouth at this stage and a Steve Trim break down the blindside of a scrum on halfway gave Ashley Cooper a chance but he was well tackled by the full back.The game was 15 minutes old before Taunton had their first meaningful attack when a well-judged kick had the left winger following up fast but the cover defence cleared the danger. Continued pressure produced a penalty attempt which rebounded off the crossbar before a second one was successfully converted.With the Taunton pack dominating the set pieces the Sidmouth line came under constant pressure. A superb cover tackle on the left winger by Nat Palmer prevented a certain try but a five metre scrum was conceded in the process. The number 8 broke and forced his way over but could not get the ball down. Another scrum was formed and this time the referee awarded a penalty try as the Sidmouth pack prevented a pushover try illegally. The conversion under the posts reduced the lead to three points.The Chiefs were then reduced to 14 men when Harry Chesterton was shown a yellow card for obstruction. Taunton used the extra man to good effect as they moved the ball through several phases before the number 8 touched down in the left corner to give his side a two point lead. The unsuccessful conversion attempt was followed by the halftime whistle. Shortly after the restart Dan Retter kicked a third penalty to regain the lead. However, it was short-lived as Taunton produced a fine piece of continuous rugby until Sidmouth ran out of defenders and the outside centre strolled over for an unconverted try.A few minutes later Retter kicked another penalty but it was disallowed because a player had strayed in front of the ball. Taunton increased their lead when they pushed the Sidmouth pack off the ball at a scrum on their own 22 and broke down the blindside to give the left winger a clear run in from 70 metres. The conversion opened up a comfortable lead which was soon increased when they won another scrum against the head near the Sidmouth 22 and again broke down the blindside, this time to send the right winger in for another converted try.With 20 minutes still to go this might have been a signal for the Sidmouth effort to collapse and allow Taunton to run up a big score. However, they continued to battle hard and a few last-ditch cover tackles prevented any further scores before they staged a late rally during which they were unlucky not to score. A Dan Retter break created a clear run in for Andy Matchett but the pass was adjudged to be forward. Then, in injury time, they produced the best passage of play of the game. Starting from close to their own line a combination of forward driving, quick rucking and good back play ended with Dan Trim crashing over under a pile of players at the other end. Unfortunately, the referee was unsighted and blew for the end of the game rather than a try.With six games of the league campaign played the Chiefs lie in ninth place. They have played four away from home which have included trips to the top three clubs at this stage. In that context it is fair to judge that they are competing well at this level and are capable of moving up the table between now and Christmas.

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