Sidmouth Chiefs beaten by strong President’s XV

Action from the Boxing Day match at the Blackmore home of Sidmouth RFC

Action from the Boxing Day match at the Blackmore home of Sidmouth RFC - Credit: Archant

A big Boxing Day crowd was present to watch the annual encounter between the Sidmouth 1xt XV and a President’s XV, a contest played out in perfect conditions and won 41-26 by the President’s XV, writes Terry O’Brien.

They were treated to an entertaining though, for an hour, somewhat onesided game.

Four tries scored by the Chiefs in the final quarter went some way to evening up matters and gave their supporters something to cheer.

A very strong President’s team included five players currently playing at National League levels and, gratifyingly, the majority of the squad were either products of the Sidmouth junior set up or had played for the club at some stage of their career. The Chiefs showed a lot of spirit to come back so well in the closing stages.

The President’s XV took the lead in the second minute from a move to the right of a scrum on halfway. Will Counsell seemed to be well covered as he received the ball on the wing but his determined run bounced off two would-be tacklers as he made his way to the corner. Dan Powell converted well from wide out.

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Ten minutes later, Ollie Rice ran a good line onto a cut out pass to slice through the Sidmouth defence for try number two, which was unconverted.

With the Chiefs under considerable pressure near their own line midway through the half, Chris Higgs was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. A quick tap was taken for the resulting penalty and Tom Irish drove over from close range.

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The Chiefs dominated the next ten minutes of play, but could not find a way to the try line. Dan Powell broke the siege with a fine break out of the 22 to set up a superb handling move, taking play into the Sidmouth 22. After a short period of pressure, Christian Goddard darted over following another quick tap penalty move. Dan Powell converted to make the halftime score 0-24.

The Chiefs had a good spell at the start of the second half with skipper Josh Bess leading by example and well supported by fellow forwards Nick Mills, Ollie Derryman and Max Moore. Cameron Grainger was busy at scrum half, Tom Seward made ground in midfield and Charlie Cotton had a promising run up the right wing, but still they failed to trouble the scoreboard.

Instead the President’s XV scored two tries in quick succession. Christian Goddard went over for his second after a series of rucks near the line had softened up the defence. Dan Powell converted before Ollie Rice dived over in the right corner to finish off a fine handling move, which had covered 70 metres. The conversion was unsuccessful.

Midway through the half, the Chiefs eventually broke their duck, when Josh Bess broke from the base of a scrum just outside the opposing 22. He made ground before linking with the back. Chris Higgs still had plenty to do when he received the ball on the right wing but his strong run took him over in the corner for Tom Whelan to convert from a narrow angle.

Matt Farrington, making a welcome return after a long absence following an operation on his neck, touched down at the back of a driving maul from a lineout. Again Tom Whelan converted.

Any thoughts of a dramatic win were dashed, when Ollie Rice completed his hattrick with a carbon copy of his first try. However, the Chiefs finished in the ascendency. A series of rucks near the line stretched the defence to give room for Chris Higgs to sprint over for his second try. Tom Whelan converted before providing the final pass for Ben Salter to complete the scoring.

There is no rugby on the New Year weekend.

The Chiefs league programme recommences on January 7, when they entertain Wadebridge Camels kicking off at 2.30pm.

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