Sidmouth Chiefs bounce back against Walcot

Repeating the Jekyll and Hyde analogy, the Chiefs followed last week’s worst defeat of the season with their biggest victory, against Walcot.

The Bath side may be bottom of the table, but they did not lack resolve. The Chiefs had to work hard for their points and the score line reflects a fine performance.

The visitors kicked off in cold, but otherwise perfect conditions. Chris Higgs, running out of defence, started a handling move which took play 40 metres up field. As the cover closed in, Ben Damen chipped the ball ahead into space. He was obstructed and Dan Retter opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty.

Play was mostly confined to midfield for the next 20 minutes, as Walcot competed well in the set pieces and generally made life difficult for a Sidmouth side containing a number of changes.

It required a move of some quality to produce the first try. Tom Hodge fielded the ball in his own half and set off on a run before linking with Jack Pyne. He embarked on a typically bullocking run before offloading to Simeon Lewry. The wingman was making his first league appearance of the season, but has not lost his finishing ability. He outpaced the cover to dive over in the left corner for an unconverted try.

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A second try quickly followed when Sam Richardson peeled around the back of a lineout in the Walcot 22 and carried a couple of defenders over the line with him. Dan Retter added the conversion.

The visitors responded well by taking play to the Sidmouth line. The defence was tested for several minutes before the pack won a scrum against the head to clear the danger.

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A good move by the backs set Ben Damen on a run which took play back into the opposing 22. The ball was worked through several phases until Andrew Dare dived over following a ruck near the line after Dan Retter had made the initial break. The fly half converted the try, and then added a penalty in injury time to make the half time score 25-0.

Complacency seemed to set in after the restart, and Walcot took full advantage to dominate the third quarter. Five minutes into the half, the scrum half dived over for a try after his forwards had advanced the ball through a series of rucks. The fly half converted.

The Chiefs had to soak up more pressure as the visitors sought to further reduce the arrears. A Ben Damen ankle tap saved a certain try, and skipper Ollie Derryman led by example with another try-saving tackle.

Eventually, the Walcot offensive ran out of steam, and the Chiefs showed their fitness with a strong finish.

A powerful Sam Richardson run got his side into an attacking position and the forwards drove through the phases until a Dan Retter inside pass found Martin Keywood. The powerful prop forward drove over for a try to mark an impressive debut and earn his side a bonus point.

Chris Higgs, on the right wing, added a brace of tries in the closing minutes.

The first came in support of a Steve Trim quick tap penalty. For the next he came from the blindside of a five metre scrum to burst through a gap. Neither try was converted.

?On Saturday, the Chiefs make the difficult journey for the return fixture against fourth- placed Avonmouth Old Boys.

?At the Blackmore the Quins entertain Okehampton 2nds in a Merit Table game kicking off at 2.30pm.

?The 3rd Team play Salcombe 2nds at Sidford also kicking off at 2.30pm.

?The Colts travel to Okehampton hoping to get a game after two successive cancellations due to frost.

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