Sidmouth Chiefs chalk up superb clean-sheet win over nearest rivals to strengthen promotion hopes

Sidmouth 2nds at home to Crediton 2nds. Ref shsp 46 18TI 4621. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth 2nds at home to Crediton 2nds. Ref shsp 46 18TI 4621. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The biggest crowd of the season at the Blackmore enjoyed the autumn sunshine as they watched Sidmouth Chiefs end Crediton’s unbeaten run and put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack with an emphatic 40-0 win, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs have now beaten all three of their closest rivals, with two of them, St Austell and Wellington, due to visit the Blackmore Field in the new year.

The final outcome could certainly not be foretold in the first quarter, most of which was spent in the Sidmouth half as the lively visitors showed why they are promotion prospects. The well-organised Sidmouth defence held its line intact, but not without a couple of scares. A forward drive was held up over the line and a last-ditch Cameron Grainger tackle just prevented a try on the left wing.

Eventually, the mobile Sidmouth pack, which included seven players who at some time have played in the backrow, began to exert its authority. The strong running of Tom Seward, Peli Vea and Ollie Pyne along with the astute decision making of number eight Josh Bess put them on the front foot.

After a long period of pressure Cameron Grainger crossed in the left corner, but the final pass had been forward. The pressure eventually told when Josh Bess stole the ball at a Crediton lineout on the visitors’ 22.

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The ball was quickly transferred to the backs. James Powell exploited a dogleg in the defensive line to cut through and wrong foot the full back before touching down for an unconverted try.

There was an element of fortune to the second try scored in first-half injury time. If a kicker doesn’t know where the ball is going, there is little chance the defending side will. Hence a miskick out of defence headed for no-mans-land.

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The bounce favoured the chasing George Locke as he gathered the ball and sped into the opposing 22. As the cover closed in, Luke Wells-Burr was in support to run in under the posts. Rory O’Brien, deputising as kicker for the injured Dan Retter, kicked the conversion for a 12-0 lead at the break.

The Chiefs took control in the opening stages of the second half with an excellent try. A powerful burst into the Crediton 22 by Peli Vea was followed by quick handling to Ethan Mead on the left wing, who just managed to squeeze in at the corner. Rory O’Brien converted from the touchline.

With Crediton now chasing the game, James Powell intercepted a loose pass near halfway before sending George Locke over for the bonus point fourth try. O’Brien added the conversion.

The Chiefs continued to threaten with several good handling moves but excellent cover defence prevented any further scores until five minutes from the end. From another lineout steal, Matt Farrington made inroads into the defence before George Locke capped an excellent game as he ran a good angle to wrong foot the defence and sprint over under the posts for O’Brien to convert.

With Crediton still spiritedly searching for a score their play deserved, James Powell intercepted once again. This time he went all the way himself. The successful conversion was followed by the final whistle.

On Saturday, the Chiefs travel across the Tamar to play Falmouth, who are unbeaten at home this season.

There is no game scheduled at the Blackmore Field, but the clubhouse will be open to show the England versus Australia match on big screen. A pre-match lunch is available. For details, see the club website.

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