Sidmouth Chiefs impress as they put high-flying visitors Chew Valley to the sword
PUBLISHED: 11:36 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 19 December 2019
Sidmouth Chiefs were 29-7 winner when they hosted a Chew Valley side that pitched up at the Blackmore sitting third and having been beaten only three times in the South West One West season to date, writes Terry O'Brien.
The Chiefs started the in similar fashion to how they had ended their game at Bridgwater seven days before.
From the moment the Chew Valley kick off failed to travel the required 10 metres, giving Sidmouth a scrum on halfway, the pressure was unrelenting and was so for the first 35 minutes of the contest.
That is how long it took the visitors to establish an attacking position, by which time they were chasing a 19-point deficit.
The first score, which came in the fifth minute, would have had coaches Phil Dollman and Jack Yeandle purring!
It came straight from the Exeter Chiefs coaching manual. Sam Meadham fielded a clearance kick just inside his own half and started a handling move, which sent Tom Hodge sprinting into the Chew Valley 22. When he was tackled, the forwards took over to advance the ball through several phases until Franck Friconnet powered his way over from the base of a ruck on the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.
The first opportunity Chew Valley had to play in Sidmouth territory came from a penalty they attempted to kick for position. It failed to find touch and the Chiefs were soon back on the attack.
When the Chiefs won a scrum against the head on the opposing 22, Peli Vea broke from the base to set up another multi-phase play by the pack. This time it was Rabbie Hansford who drove over for the try. Again, Dan Retter kicked the extra two points.
From the restart kick, Tom Hodge broke a couple of tackles to put his side back on the front foot. Play remained inside the Chew Valley half until Dan Retter dummied his way over on the blindside of a ruck near the line for an unconverted try.
Chew Valley regained possession from the resulting kick off and at last they gained a foothold inside the Sidmouth half.
They were awarded a very kickable penalty but chose to kick for a lineout in the corner. The Chiefs resisted two catch-and-drive plays before the halftime whistle sounded to leave their opponents scoreless at the break.
Clearly the right words had been said as Chew Valley showed why they are placed third in the league. A splendid handling move took them 50 metres upfield and applying pressure. An interception by Luke Bess provided, supported by Dan Retter, provided a few moments of relief.
The visitors soon re-established an attacking position with more good handling and continuity to earn a five-metre scrum.
The Chiefs were forced to defend desperately for the next ten minutes but eventually a forward forced his way through a badly stretched defence. The full back kicked the conversion.
The Chiefs hit back almost immediately with a Dan Retter penalty leaving the opponents needing at least three scores for the lead.
In the last ten minutes, the Chiefs regained control and went in search of a bonus point fourth try. They crossed the whitewash twice without reward.
Strong running by Ollie Pyne and Rabbie Hansford set up a position near the line but Cameron Grainger lost possession as he dived for the line. Minutes later, Cian Warren was sent on a clear run to the corner but was recalled for a forward pass earlier in the move.
The try eventually came in injury time, when forwards Peli Vea, Haydon Down and Franck Friconnet produced a handling move the backs would have been proud of to send skipper Ollie Pyne over under the posts. Dan Retter's conversion completed the scoring.
We have now reached the midway stage of the competition with the Chiefs sitting comfortably in mid table.
On Saturday they travel to Crediton seeking to reverse a narrow defeat in September.
At the Blackmore Field the Quins entertain Crediton 3rds kicking off at 2.30pm and the Colts are also in action with a visit to Exeter Athletic Colts.
On Boxing Day the Chiefs play the annual match against the President's XV. The kick off is at 2.30pm.