Sidmouth Chiefs denied by last gasp Cullompton penalty

Cullompton 30, Sidmouth 28 A penalty kicked in injury time denied the Chiefs a much-needed victory in a dramatic finale to this entertaining local derby played in perfect conditions at Stafford Park, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs started in fine style, with Josh Bess following up the kick off to regain possession and give his side an attacking momentum they would maintain until James Powell opened the scoring with a fine try. Dwight Pansegrouw set the move going with a powerful burst from the back of a lineout. A break by Harry Chesterton made further inroads, and, when the ball was quickly recycled from a ruck near the line, the full back’s well-angled run took him over the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.

Unforced errors and poor defensive work then handed the initiative over to the home side. A handling error inside the Sidmouth 22 was punished as the Cullompton backs combined well to send the outside centre in for an unconverted try. The restart kick failed to travel the required 10-metres giving Cullompton a scrum. They used this platform to advance play through several phases, aided by some hesitant defence, to set up a try by the hooker. The full back added the conversion.

An exchange of penalties was followed by a third Cullompton try. Harry Chesterton’s try-saving tackle on the number eight brought a dangerous move to an end, but the same player was not to be denied as he touched down a pushover try from the resulting scrum.

Dan Retter kicked a second penalty and the Chiefs were unfortunate not to add to their try tally in the last minute of the half. Rory O’Brien followed up a Dan Retter kick to catch the ball and make ground before passing inside to James Powell. He seemed to be breaking clear but a desperate tap tackle brought him down and the half ended with the score at 13-20.

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Cullompton extended their lead three minutes into the second period with a carbon copy of the previous try. This time it was Dan Rugg with the try-saving tackle before the number eight scored a second pushover try. The conversion opened up a 14-point gap.

The Chiefs adopted a more aggressive approach to their defence and a couple of replacements added some mobility. As a result Cullompton were forced into a series of errors, which gave the initiative to Sidmouth. They were awarded three penalties in kickable positions, but decided to go for tries. Initially they were not successful, but the pressure was eventually rewarded when Lewis Tollerfield sprinted over from a quick throw to the front of a lineout.

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A Dan Retter penalty kept the scoreboard ticking over before they took the lead with the try of the match in the 78th minute. Harry Chesterton made the initial break from a handling move on halfway. When he was stopped the ball was quickly recycled and move to the right, where James Powell came into the line to break through before sending Tristan Beavis over. The conversion put them in the lead by a single point.

Unfortunately, from the restart kick they tried to run down the clock with a series of pick and drive moves. In the process they lost possession and were penalised trying to retrieve the situation. The successful kick was followed by the final whistle. The Dukes Man of the Match was Josh Bess.

On Saturday the Chiefs entertain league leaders Cleve. However, with the visitors having lost their last two games after an unbeaten start, there might be an outside chance of an upset, if the Chiefs can maintain their improved form. The kick off is at 2.30pm. The Quins and the Colts both travel to Brixham.

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