Sidmouth Chiefs close to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat

Sidmouth at home to Paignton. Ref shsp 15 19TI 1990. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth at home to Paignton. Ref shsp 15 19TI 1990. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth suffered a fifth straight league defeat when beaten 38-32 at Keynsham, writes Terry O’Brien.

There was a thrilling finale to this entertaining game as the Chiefs fought back from a 22-point deficit to earn two valuable bonus points and come close to their first win of the season. But for a couple of fortuitous bounces in favour of the opposition this might have been it.

Sam Cavin was called into defensive action within a minute of the kick -off, when a fly hack took the ball to within a few metres of the Sidmouth goal line. The full back did well to cover the danger under pressure.

Keynsham took an early lead when a diagonal kick bounced kindly for the left winger to gather and dot down in the corner. The try was unconverted.

The Chiefs soon replied with a fine try set up by the forwards with a driving maul inside the Keynsham 22 and a sympathetic pass by Dan Retter for Tom Hodge to cut an angle inside his opposite number and around the full back to touch down near the posts. Retter's conversion gave his side the lead for the only time in the game.

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The small band of Sidmouth supporters came to life when Dan Retter intercepted on his own 22.

He eventually found Luke Wells-Burr in support, but the cover defence cut out the danger.

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Keynsham regained the lead when the left winger scored a second try on the overlap after good approach work by his forwards had drawn the defence in. The inside centre converted and then added a penalty a few minutes later.

Dan Retter replied with a penalty on the half hour mark, but Keynsham took control to score two more tries before the break. The right winger side stepped inside the cover to finish off a good handling move for a converted try. Then, in injury time, the outside centre benefitted from a charged down kick to make the score 10-27.

A minute after the restart, a kick ahead by the home right winger gave his side a second good bounce and the number 13 followed up to touch down for his second try to leave the Chiefs with a mountain to climb.

Showing great spirit, they scrambled up the foothills with a move of great continuity finished off by Luke Wells-Burr. Man-of-the match Tom Hodge, Sam Cavin and Peli Vea all made breaks in the build-up. The try was converted.

Keynsham kept their score ticking over with a penalty before Wells-Burr crossed for a second try for his side to reach base camp. The move was started when Keynsham overthrew at a defensive lineout and Jed Reid snapped up the ball and drove deep into the 22. The ball was then worked to the right where the prolific winger beat two defenders on his way to the line.

Another Keynsham penalty momentarily interrupted the momentum before the Chiefs took charge for much of the final quarter.

A 30-metre kick return by Peli Vea laid the foundation for the bonus point fourth try. The forwards carried the move on, drawing in defenders, before releasing the ball to the backs. George Locke timed his pass perfectly for Cian Warren to cap a promising debut on the left wing with a try. Dan Retter converted from the touchline before adding a penalty to close the gap to six points and in sight of the summit.

In the final 10 minutes play was almost exclusively confined to the Keynsham 22. George Locke crossed in the corner, but was adjudged to have put a foot in touch and Keynsham held on to their lead to the final whistle.

On Saturday the Chiefs play Lydney on the Blackmore Field kicking off at 3pm. The Quins travel to Tiverton.

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