Retter’s last ditch drop kick saves Chiefs

Sidmouth 1st Xv 26pts,

Ivybridge 1st Xv 25pts

A drop goal six minutes into injury time secured the Chiefs a fourth season of South West League rugby in an error-strewn performance against bottom club Ivybridge, writes Terry O’Brien.

Despite a dominant scrum and solid lineout, the Chiefs looked down and out as the clock ran down at the Blackmore, where Ivybridge belied their league position with a spirited performance.

A series of basic errors saw a halftime lead wiped out as they spent much of the second period under pressure. With relegation staring them in the face, they staged a late fight back to score an excellent try and set up the platform for Dan Retter’s boot to stage another rescue act.

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Ivybridge, with the breeze at their backs, started in lively fashion on a hard pitch, and took the lead after five minutes with a penalty. Sidmouth levelled the scores a few minutes later with a Dan Retter penalty, after a good handling move had taken play into the Ivybridge 22.

The visitors soon regained the lead, and showed they had not come to make up the numbers, with an interception try by the left winger as the Chiefs tried to run the ball out of defence. The conversion took them into double figures.

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The Chiefs responded well to dominate proceedings in the middle of the half. They drew level when Andy Matchett snapped the loose ball up from a charged down kick and dived over for Retter to add the extras.

Play moved from end to end in the closing minutes of the half. The Ivybridge number eight almost scored from a tap penalty move, before a penalty allowed the Chiefs to clear their line. They then capitalised on the extra man after an Ivybridge forward was yellow carded. Jack Pyne peeled off a driving maul to set up a ruck inside the opposing 22. The ball was quickly recycled and moved along the backline, where Sam Meadham arrived at pace to cut through for an unconverted try to give his side a 15-10 halftime lead.

The Chiefs spent much of the next half hour in their own half, as Ivybridge capitalised on their mistakes with a good display of ball retention and opportunism. A penalty reduced the arrears before the fly half scored from a quick penalty after a long period of pressure. The try was converted.

A rare excursion into opposition territory resulted in a Dan Retter penalty, but they were soon back on the defensive, where a last ditch Tom Hodge tackle denied the right winger after a fine handling move. However, the lead was increased when another quick tap penalty resulted in a try by the hooker. This left the Chiefs needing two scores to secure the all-important four points.

With less than five minutes left, Tom Hodge ran back a missed touch kick. He linked up with his forwards, who drove forward before releasing the ball to the backs.

Swift handling found Sam Meadham in space on the right wing to squeeze in at the corner. The conversion attempt drifted wide, leaving three points for the win.

Meadham was in the action again as time ran out. This time it was his turn to counterattack from a misdirected kick. He took play into the 22 in front of the posts. The forwards took over as Retter dropped back into the pocket. The ball was delivered. The kick was not his best, but it was just long enough and high enough for the three points needed.

There was just enough time for Ivybridge to launch one more attack until a knock on cued the final whistle.

On Saturday, the Chiefs travel to Paignton to complete the league season. A win would secure them a place in a congested mid-table..

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