Retter's trusty boots secure points
As this season has progressed, Sidmouth have proved adept at winning close games and, once again, it was the trusty boot of Dan Retter that put points on the board when they were most needed.
As this season has progressed, Sidmouth have proved adept at winning close games and, once again, it was the trusty boot of Dan Retter that put points on the board when they were most needed. Withycombe have enjoyed a good run of form since December and were always going to be a potential banana skin to Sidmouth's promotion campaign.Starting the game without first choice hooker Callum Hill and line-out specialist Phil Spencer, Sidmouth were never going to secure enough possession to dominate a game which became an intense attrition of physical commitment. The referee took a firm disciplinary approach from the start, resulting in a regular supply of penalties to both sides and two yellow cards against Sidmouth players and one red one against a Withycombe player who expressed his opinion to the referee once too often!After half an hour it was 6-0 to Sidmouth, courtesy of two Retter penalties. Withycombe tended to use their penalties to kick to the corner and attempt a catch-and-drive from the line-out. One of these produced an unconverted try just before half-time. Retter responded with a third penalty in injury time for a score of 9-5 to Sidmouth at the break.Midway through the second half, following a spell of pressure on the Sidmouth line, Withycombe opted to convert a simple penalty, bringing the score to 9-8 and ensuring that the last quarter of the game would be increasingly stressful for players, officials and spectators. The home crowd claimed a try when Withycombe forwards forced their way over the line but the referee decided the ball was not grounded. At the other end Sidmouth confidently claimed a try when Chesterton, following up a misdirected penalty attempt, appeared to beat the defence to the touch down, but this time the referee gave the benefit of the doubt to the home team.In the last 10 minutes Sidmouth finally asserted their authority with strong runs from Max Hansford, the ever-improving Jack Pyne and Jamie Wardrop, who seemed certain to round off a good three-quarter movement with a try but was well tackled just short of the line. This spell of pressure resulted in Retter's fourth penalty in injury time and a narrow victory for Sidmouth.Sidmouth remain one point behind league leaders Paignton but are now six points ahead of Tiverton and Wadebridge. There are no league games this week but the campaign resumes on March 1 with Tiverton at home.