Sidmouth Chiefs edged out in Boxing Day fixture

Sidmouth Chiefs home at Blackmore to Teignmouth. Ref shsp 1638-05-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Chiefs home at Blackmore to Teignmouth. Ref shsp 1638-05-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs went down 32-31 in a festive encounter, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs suffered their second consecutive single point defeat as the President’s XV enjoyed a rare victory in this annual Boxing Day encounter.

An outstanding try in the final minutes secured the win for the invitation team, which had been trailing since the first minute.

A good holiday crowd enjoyed a game in which both sides defied a heavy pitch and strong diagonal wind to play entertaining, open rugby.

The Chiefs set the tone with an excellent try straight from the kick-off. The forwards advanced the ball through a few phases before releasing it to the backs. Rory O’Brien exploited a gap in the centre before sending Tom Seward on a sprint down the left wing. As the cover closed in, he found James Powell in support on his inside to finish the move of under the posts. Hooker Joe Herbert added the conversion.

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The President’s XV showed that this was not going to be a walk over with a fine try of their own. After a period of pressure inside the Sidmouth 22 had stretched the defence, quick handling found Ben Salter on the overlap to cross in the left corner. The try was unconverted.

In a helter-skelter start, the Chiefs regained a seven point lead, when they turned over possession in a tackle on halfway. Again Rory O’Brien made the initial break to put Tom Seward in space. This time the wingman finished the move on his own.

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Play was evenly contested through the middle of the half until the Chiefs extended their lead on the half hour. After a period of pressure on the President’s XV line, Josh Reed forced his way over from close range. The try was converted by James Powell.

The President’s XV hit back with two tries in quick succession in the closing minutes of the half. Ross McGilchrist powered his way over from close range after a series of rucks on the Sidmouth line. Dan Powell converted before George Meadows intercepted on his own 22 and ran all the way for an unconverted try to make the halftime score 19-17 to the Chiefs.

The Chiefs started the second half strongly. Seven minutes in, a slick handling move sent Tim Robbins sprinting for the line. He was brought down a metre short but the referee judged the tackle to be dangerously high and awarded a penalty try. James Powell converted from in front of the posts.

Dan Powell made a 70-metre break from the base of a scrum near his own line to set up an attacking move, which he finished off himself.

With seven minutes to play, the triumvirate of Tom Seward, James Powell and Rory O’Brien combined again to open up a nine point lead. This time O’Brien provided the finishing touch.

This lead seemed to be enough but the President’s XV had other ideas. Ben Salter fielded a loose clearance kick on halfway to start a counterattack, which was finished off by Ollie Pyne. Then, with the last move of the match, Ollie Pyne started a move on the blindside of a scrum just inside his own half. Slick handling and good support play ended with Rhys Thomas touching down. The unsuccessful conversion attempt was followed by the final whistle.

On Saturday the Chiefs entertain Tiverton for the first league game of the New Year. The kick off is at 2.30pm. Meanwhile, the Quins and the third XV travel to Tiverton.

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