Sidmouth Chiefs fall to pack power in Bridgwater and Albion reversal

Bridgwater and Albion 43, Sidmouth 17 Pack power paved the way for Bridgwater’s comfortable home win, writes Terry O’Brien.

Once again the Chiefs struggled for possession in the set pieces and Bridgwater capitalised with a display of clinical finishing once they got in range of the Sidmouth line.

When they got their hands on the ball, the Sidmouth backs played some enterprising and skilful rugby, but mostly from long range giving the cover defence time to operate. Harry Chesterton carved a number of openings in the centre, while Dukes man-of-the-match Ben Salter at full back was rock-solid under the high ball, and was well supported by wingers Dan Colson and Jevon Astley-Jones on the counterattack.

Bridgwater kicked off and were soon on the offensive. In the fifth minutes the tight head prop ran powerfully into the 22 to set up a ruck. When the ball was recycled, his fellow prop joined the line at pace, and a good angle, to burst through under the posts. The try was converted by the fly half.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately. Jack Pyne stole the ball from a Bridgwater maul and burst into the 22. When he was stopped, the ball was transferred to the backs. Swift handling found Ben Salter on the overlap to dive over in the corner. Dan Retter converted from the touchline to level the scores.

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A few minutes later influential prop Tom Huggett had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. Bridgwater capitalised on the disruption by scoring two tries in quick succession. The number three touched down following a lineout catch and drive play, and then the number six peeled around the back of a lineout on the Sidmouth 22 and found his scrum half in support to finish the move off. The try was converted.

Dan Retter kicked a 50-metre penalty before the home side took control again. The forwards did well to resist another attempted lineout maul, but the number eight scored a pushover try from the resulting scrum.

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The Chiefs finished the half on the attack and Jack Pyne was stopped inches short of the line following a quick tap penalty move. This left the score at 10-24 at the break.

The Chiefs started the second half with a fine handling move out of defence to send Ben Salter on a run deep into Bridgwater territory. Unfortunately they could not sustain the attacking position and Bridgwater extended their lead with a second pushover try by the number eight.

The Chiefs competed well during the middle of the half with some enterprising rugby. Jack Pyne and Dwight Pansegrouw combined well with powerful running to take play into the 22. After sustained pressure a Harry Chesterton break set up the position for Jack Pyne to drive over from a ruck near the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.

The Chiefs failed to secure the ball at the restart and Bridgwater turned over possession. After a number of phases in the 22, the outside centre dummied his way over for a converted try.

The final try was an individual effort from the home flanker, which the Chiefs will prefer to forget. A promising Sidmouth move broke down on the Bridgwater 22. The number seven snapped up the loose ball and set off up field. He broke through a number of attempted tackles before touching down in the left corner.

On Saturday the Chiefs are in action in the Devon Intermediate Cup. Their opponents at the Blackmore are Paignton. The kick off will be at the earlier time of 1pm in order to give players and spectators an opportunity to watch the England v New Zealand game, which will be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse.

The Quins travel to Exmouth for a Merit Table game.

The Colts travel to Barnstaple for the first leg of a Devon Colts Cup game.

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