Sidmouth Chiefs draw a blank for the first time in almost six years with defeat at Thornbury

PUBLISHED: 12:39 21 November 2019

Honiton rugby action

Honiton rugby action

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The Chiefs' winning run came to an end at Thornbury as they failed to register a score for the first time since January 2014, slipping to a 26-0 defeat, writes Terry O'Brien.

However, the score line does not reflect the Chiefs' contribution to a hard fought and absorbing game in which two Thornbury tries were scored deep into injury time in each half.

With both sides putting up strong, well-organised defences, much of the game was fought out midfield.

There is no doubt that Thornbury had the stronger kicking game, which gave them an edge in territory. Also, a high penalty count against the Chiefs in the first half negated the advantage of playing down the slope. Sidmouth kicked off down the slope, but it was the home side which started in ominous fashion. A good handling move out of their own half followed by the first of many well-placed kicks had the Chiefs scrambling back to concede a lineout close to their line. The Thornbury pack set up a maul, which crabbed infield creating a space on the blindside, where a forward powered his way over for an unconverted try.

Although both sides had their moments in attack, defences dominated until five minutes into time added on, when Thornbury kicked a penalty into the corner. From the resulting lineout they set up a successful catch-and-drive play for their hooker to score. The try was converted for a 12-0 half-time lead.

Twelve minutes into the second half, the Chiefs were attacking strongly until an opposition prop intercepted a loose pass and galloped into Sidmouth territory. When he was overhauled, the ball was quickly recycled and moved along the backs to an overlap for the left winger to score. The conversion was successful.

Despite both teams' efforts to play open rugby, the muddy conditions and dominant defences prevented either side from creating scoring opportunities. As the game went into the final ten minutes, Thornbury reverted to a kicking game to keep play in the Sidmouth half. Meanwhile, the Chiefs were running from any position attempting to register a score.

In injury time, the inevitable happened as an interception by the number eight gave him an empty field in front. He covered the 30 metres unhindered to score a bonus point try, which put his team at the top of the league table. The Chiefs now have a two-week break thanks to the demise of St Ives and a reserve date. Hopefully this will give time for players to recover from injury before the trip to Bridgwater in December.

On Saturday the only team in action is the Colts, who entertain Cullompton at the Blackmore Field, kicking off at 2.30pm.

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