Retter’s boot crucial as Chiefs beat Avonmouth
Changed pack pulls through
In a game which rarely lifted above the ordinary, the Chiefs gained their first league victory over Avonmouth in five attempts. Despite the visitors dominating large chunks of territory, and scoring two tries to one, it was the battle of the goal kickers which was decisive. Dan Retter kicked five out of seven, while his opposite number could only manage his first two out of five.
Both sides struggled to come to terms with the damp ground, slippery ball and intermittent showers. A much-changed Sidmouth pack included two debutants in Mark Unsworth at prop and Josh Bess in the second row. There was another on the bench in Hooker Alan Hubbleday.
Despite the changes, they matched their opponents in all phases. Meanwhile, both back lines cancelled each other out, showing only rare glimpses of their collective ability. What gave Avonmouth the edge territorially, was their better tactical kicking and the organisation of their full back and wingers who dealt with anything kicked their way. In contrast, the Sidmouth back three were too often out of position or failed to support each other adequately.
For the first time in five games, the Chiefs took the lead thanks to a Dan Retter penalty but, with a bit more luck, it might have been a try. Chris Higgs was released down the right touchline, following a move on the blindside of a scrum near halfway. Despite breaking through a despairing tackle by the full back, he was knocked off balance sufficiently to stumble and fall just short of the line. However, a defender was caught offside at the resulting ruck and Retter potted the three points.
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Three points became 10 in as many minutes, when a good move by the backs took play to the Avonmouth goal line. Sam Meadham was tackled just short but a defensive knock-on gave the Chiefs a scrum in the left corner. Sam Richardson broke and was driven over by his fellow forwards. Retter added the conversion.
The Avonmouth fly half kicked a penalty a few minutes later to initiate a long period of pressure by the visitors. Just as the Chiefs seemed to have lifted the siege, and started to build an attack of their own, a knock- on gave away possession.
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The ball was kicked back into the vacant Sidmouth 22. Despite a desperate defensive rearguard action, they were outnumbered by the chasing players and the number 13 dived over in the left corner. The fly half converted from the touchline to level the scores.
A long range Dan Retter penalty put the Chiefs back in front at half time.
With the diagonal breeze in their favour, Avonmouth dominated for much of the first half hour after the restart. However, they failed to find enough continuity to really threaten the Sidmouth defence. The game drifted into stalemate until a fine piece of opportunism by the Avonmouth full back put his side back in front. The left winger fielded a loose clearance kick and found his number 15 in support. He gained ground before chipping ahead, re-gathering the ball and out-sprinting the cover. The try was unconverted.
On a rare Sidmouth excursion into Avonmouth territory, Dan Retter restored the lead with a penalty after good driving by the forwards, and a strong run by Andrew Eustace, had taken play deep into the 22.
The visitors responded with good continuity and accurate handling to open up the defence, but a knock -on brought the dangerous move to an end. The Chiefs produced a good move of their own before Ben Damen threaded through a promising grubber kick, but the defenders just won the chase.
Most of the final 10 minutes were played out in the Avonmouth half, as the visitors seemed to lose concentration. With five minutes to go, a mass brawl broke out inside the 22 and, when order was finally restored, the referee awarded a penalty to Sidmouth in front of the posts. Dan Retter kicked the three points and his side played out the remaining few minutes comfortably.
?On Saturday, the Chiefs play the first of two consecutive games at Brixham. This week it is a league game and next sees the first round of the Devon Senior Cup. The Fishermen lie second in the league and will provide a stern test of the Chiefs new-found confidence.
?The Quins entertain Brixham 2nds in a Merit Table game. The kick off at the Blackmore is at 3pm.
?The 3rd Team entertain touring team Mitcham Vets. The kick off at Sidford is at 3pm.
?The Colts travel to Newton Abbot.
INDOOR SPACE NEEDED
Sidmouth Rugby Club are looking for a suitable indoor space for their weight training gym.
They soon have to vacate their present building.
Anyone who has, or knows of, a suitable space please contact Terry O'Brien on (01395) 577403.