Sidmouth crowned champions - now for a league and cup double
PUBLISHED: 22:33 15 April 2019
Sidmouth Chiefs secured the Western Counties West league championship with a convincing 40-11 success at Saltash, writes Terry O'Brien.
In a game influenced by a stiff diagonal wind and against opponents whose performance belied their league position, the Chiefs' clinical finishing was the decisive factor.
Receiving the kick-off facing the wind, the Chiefs opened the game in style.
A good move from a scrum on halfway was supported by Tom Seward, who broke clear up-field.
Ollie Pyne was in support and was eventually tackled a couple of metres short of the line. Saltash were penalised at the resulting ruck and Dan Retter kicked the goal to open the scoring.
Saltash, using the wind to good effect, kicked for position to keep play in the Sidmouth half. They were rewarded with two penalties kicked by the fly half to take the lead by the quarter hour.
Midway through the half, the Chiefs regained the lead with an excellent try. Tom Hodge made the crucial break and drew the full back to send Peli Vea in for an unconverted try.
Ten minutes later Saltash regained the lead with a quality try of their own. A period of pressure inside the Sidmouth 22 produced an overlap on the left and slick handling put the winger over in the corner. The try was unconverted.
A Dan Retter penalty levelled the score going into the half-time break.
With the wind at their backs, it was Sidmouth's turn to enjoy territorial advantage and they used it effectively to score three tries in fifteen minutes after the restart.
Another break by Tom Hodge sparked a handling move finished off by Ethan Mead.
When Dan Retter kicked a penalty to the corner, the forwards set up a catch-and-drive play and went all the way to the line for Ollie Derryman to get the touchdown.
Tom Seward, Peli Vea and James Powell combined in a handling move, taking play deep into the opposing 22. A series of rucks advanced the ball to the line, where Haydon Down forced his way over. None of the tries was converted.
Saltash fought back well with good continuity and ambitious handling but could not break through the defensive wall. When Ethan Mead fielded a kick on his own 22, he started a handling move, which set up Luke Wells-Burr on a 40-metre sprint down the right touchline. He outpaced the cover to touch down near the posts for Dan Retter to add the conversion.
Much of the next 15 minutes were played inside the Sidmouth half as Saltash continued to play with spirit and skill. But again, the Chiefs' defence remained resolute.
On their next visit to the home 22, the forwards again set up a driving maul from a lineout. They were stopped short of the line, where they set up a series of rucks until Tom Hodge took a short pass from Rabbie Hansford to dive over for try number six to cap a man-of-the-match performance. Dan Retter's conversion completed the scoring.
There was time for Saltash to have a final attack, but they found the Sidmouth defence in parsimonious mood.
The final whistle was followed by great celebration by the players and the large contingent of supporters who had made the journey over the Tamar.
On Good Friday (April 19), the Quins play a holiday game against an Ottery XV. The kick-off is at 3pm.
On Saturday, the Chiefs attempt a league and cup double, when they take on Crediton in the final of the Devon Intermediate Cup.
The kick off on the Blackmore Field is at 3pm. Please note that the Devon RFU require this match to be all pay.
The Chiefs will be defending the trophy they won in dramatic fashion at Cullompton last year.
With Crediton finishing just two points behind in the league, this promises to be thrilling match between two well-matched teams.