Sidmouth Chiefs back on top after seeing off Falmouth

Sidmouth at home to Kingsbridge. shsp 49 18TI 6047. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth at home to Kingsbridge. shsp 49 18TI 6047. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs were 45-26 winners over Falmouth and the bonus point win they banked with the result takes the Chiefs back to the top of the Western Counties West table in what is proving to be an exciting final few weeks of the season, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs showed that, if the forwards can provide solid possession form the set pieces, it provides the platform for the talented back line to thrive.

And so it proved in this game, despite a defensive wobble either side of half-time.

Dan Retter showed that a four-month injury break had not blunted his kicking ability with a successful penalty from the halfway line to open the scoring.

He soon added a second three pointer from a less demanding range after a Luke Wells-Burr run had created the attacking position.

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Wells-Burr was in the action again two minutes later with a try from a well-worked move after the forwards had put the opposition on the back foot with a driving maul from a lineout on the opposing 22.

The wingman came from the blindside to take an inside pass and sprint over near the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion.

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The Chiefs were now hitting their top form as a well-worked backs move brought Sam Meadham into the line at pace from full back.

He was eventually stopped a few metres short of the line but found Dan Rugg in support to finish the move off in a way that would have had flankers of a certain vintage purring. Again, Dan Retter converted.

Dan Rugg was again in support of his backs to break through the defensive on a run into the 22. The forwards advanced play further before releasing the ball to the blindside of a ruck, where the it was moved swiftly to Luke Wells-Burr on the wing. He had limited room in which too work but was able to outpace the cover and dive over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Falmouth enjoyed their first sustained period in attack and eventually benefitted from a lapse in the Sidmouth defence, which left a simple overlap from the number five to stride over in the left corner.

With the Chiefs pressing hard on the Falmouth line in first half injury time, the visitors’ right winger picked off a loose pass to sprint 90 metres for a try under the posts. The successful conversion made the half time score 25-12.

When the Falmouth full back joined the line at pace to cut through for a third try soon after the restart, alarm bells began to ring. The conversion cut the Sidmouth lead to six points.

A third Dan Retter penalty settled the nerves of the home supporters.

A penalty in a similar position was kicked for a lineout 10 metres from the Falmouth line. A catch-and-drive was set up and driven all the way to the line for Ollie Derryman to touch down the bonus point fourth try.

A 50-metre run by replacement centre Harry Chesterton put the Chiefs on the attack again and, after a series of rucks near the line, James Powell burst through a gap in the defence to touch down under the posts. Dan Retter converted.

Falmouth got a well-deserved bonus point try, when their number eight ran over from close range after a period of pressure inside the Sidmouth 22 and the try was converted.

The Chiefs finished in style with a try in injury time, when Tom Hodge joined the line from the blindside of a scrum to embark on a diagonal run past three defenders.

The unsuccessful conversion attempt was followed by the final whistle.

On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Kingsbridge in a battle on two fronts. Primarily to maintain their lead in the league but also to secure home advantage in the Devon Intermediate Cup final, which they have already qualified for along with Crediton.

Meanwhile, Ilfracombe’s defeat by Exeter Engineers means that Sidmout Quins have won the Devon Merit Table 2 North & East to earn a home semi-final match against Torquay Athletic 2nds in the Dave Butt Cup. This also gives them a shot at promotion into Devon Merit Table One. On Saturday the Quins have a warm-up match at home against Exeter Athletic.

The kick-off at the Blackmore Field is at 3pm.

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