Sidmouth Chiefs end 2019 league fixtures with another magnificent away success

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2755. Picture: Terry

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2755. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs made amends for a narrow defeat at home to Crediton in September with a convincing win when they travelled to Devon for a festive Devon derby meeting, writes Terry O’Brien.

This completes an outstanding December with three wins against teams sitting above them in the league table at the time matches were played.

As we move into the New Year, Sidmouth lie fifth in table, a position which looked impossible after losing the first five matches.

Crediton kicked off on a wet pitch in steady drizzle. In difficult conditions, both teams adopted a kicking game, which Crediton had the better of for the first ten minutes. Despite territorial advantage, they never threatened the Sidmouth line.

The Chiefs reverted to keeping the ball in hand and with eight forwards capable of breaking the gain line this proved to be effective.

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They gradually gained a firm foothold in the game, which was rewarded with a try. Good inter-passing set up Asa Unsworth on a run to the line.

He was stopped five metres short, but the forwards were quickly in support to set up a series of rucks until Haydon Down burrowed his way over near the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion.

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Crediton rallied in the middle of the half as the game became bogged down in midfield with defences dominating and both sides dealing with kicks efficiently.

The Chiefs eventually broke the deadlock on the half hour when Haydon Down and Asa Unsworth combined down the blindside of a ruck to take play into the home 22, where the remainder of the half was played out.

Tom Hodge was sent on a clear run to the line, but the final pass was ruled to be forward.

Then, in injury time, the forwards drove over the line but the they could not ground the ball. The halftime whistle followed with the score remaining at 7-0.

Seven minutes after the restart Luke Wells-Burr fielded a kick just outside his 22 and embarked on a run up-field.

He was held up on the halfway line, where the Sidmouth forwards drove him forward 20 metres. When the ball was released to the backs, quick passing found Tom Hodge on the overlap and he outpaced the cover to dive over in the left corner. The try was unconverted.

With the Sidmouth forwards now in control, Peli Vea and Asa Unsworth combined to take play to the Crediton 22. The ball was quickly recycled and moved along the backline, where Tom Hodge was again on the overlap. The full back got across to make the tackle, but momentum took the centre over the line for his second try. Dan Retter converted.

Crediton established an attacking position from the restart kick. When the Chiefs were penalised, they were expecting a kick to the left corner. Instead, the fly half kicked into space on the right. The ball sat up perfectly for the right winger to gather and sprint over in the corner. The try was unconverted.

Spirited Crediton were soon back on the attack encouraged by some Sidmouth indiscipline. The Chiefs defended well against concerted pressure near their line as their lead began to look fragile.

The siege was eventually lifted when they were awarded a 22 drop out and they regained control of proceedings. Two Crediton errors enabled them to add two further tries. Both came as the opposition tried to run the ball out of their own 22 and lost possession.

On both occasions the ball was snapped up by a Sidmouth player. The first was advanced to the line through a series of rucks with Franck Friconnet forcing his way over for Dan Retter to convert.

The second passed through several sets of hands for Cameron Grainger to apply the finishing touch. The successful conversion was followed by the final whistle.

The Chiefs resume their league campaign after the holiday period on January 4, when league leaders Devonport Services travel to the Blackmore Field for a 2.30pm kick off.

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