Sidmouth Chiefs fail to score a try for only the second time this season

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to Wellington. Ref shsp 13-17TI 9526. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to Wellington. Ref shsp 13-17TI 9526. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs went down 10-6 at home to Wellington, writes Terry O’Brien.

This was only the second time the Chiefs have failed to score a try this season and, until the 78th minute, they never threatened to cross the Wellington line. And, with Dan Retter having two penalty attempts rebound the wrong side of the uprights, scoring opportunities were at a premium.

Going into the game, Sidmouth had every reason to be confident, having won 45-18 in the away match and with Wellington at the bottom of the league, however, complacency is a different animal and one difficult to shake off once the game is under way.

The wake up call should have come at the first scrum, when the Sidmouth eight were unceremoniously shoved back. If that wasn’t enough, a similar experience at the next two scrums should have rammed home the message irrevocably.

The malaise did not just lie with the forwards. The back line was unrecognisable against the slick outfit, which ran in five tries at Torquay and ran Bideford ragged for spells the previous week.

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The Wellington pack, boosted by their early success, opened the scoring in the tenth minute with a well executed lineout catch-and-drive play. They drove to within two metres of the Sidmouth line before the hooker peeled off and drove through a couple of ineffective tackles to touch down an unconverted try.

The Chiefs had a good spell in the middle of the half but were making too many unforced errors and could not sustain pressure for any length of time. Meanwhile, Wellington were quicked to, and more aggressive, at the breakdown, winning turnover ball and looking dangerous on the counteattack. On one occasion only a forward pass prevented a second try, but one did soon follow.

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It came from another driving maul set up at a lineout near the Sidmouth line. This time it was driven all the way with the number four applying the touchdown. Again the the conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

In first half injury time, Dan Retter eventually put his side on the scoreboard with a successful penalty kick.

The introduction of Mark Unsworth into the front row at half-time had the desirable effect of shoring up the scrum.

Eight minutes into the second half, Wellington were reduced to 14 men, when a forward was yellow carded for an offence at a ruck. Dan Retter kicked the resulting penalty to reduce the arrears to four points.

Wellington played the next 20 minutes a man short as the scrum half was sent to the sin bin just as his team mate was returning to the game.

Although the Chiefs held territorial advantage for much of the final quarter, they could make little impression against the determined defense of a team which could sense victory cheered on enthusiastically by a group of ex players enjoying their day out in the Sidmouth sunshine.

With two minutes to go, the Chiefs managed to produce a move which ended with Tom Seward diving over in the right corner but he was adjudged to have put a foot in touch and the try was disallowed.

Wellington hung on for the final few minutes for a win which keeps alive their hopes of survival for another season of Western Counties rugby.

On Saturday (April 1) the Chiefs are at home again as they entertain St Austell, kicking off at 3pm.

The Quins play Wadebridge 2nds at Sidford also with a 3pm kick off.

The Colts travel to South Molton.

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