Sidmouth Chiefs hit by unavailabilty as opening league game ends in heavy defeat
- Credit: Archant
Clevedon 40, Sidmouth 6 With several players unavailable and five league debutants in the squad, the Chiefs came face to face with the harsh reality of South West league rugby at Clevedon, writes Terry O’Brien.
They were badly outplayed in the set pieces and did well to stay in contention until Nick Mills was yellow carded 13 minutes into the second half. In the end they were overwhelmed by relentless forward pressure.
In light rain on a firm pitch, the Chiefs started the game brightly showing good attacking intent, and it was somewhat against the run of play when Clevedon opened the scoring by running back a speculative Sidmouth kick. There seemed to be little danger when the full back caught the ball well inside his own half, but a couple of missed tackles opened up the defence for the inside centre to finish off some good handling. The try was unconverted.
A good period of Sidmouth pressure in the middle of the half was rewarded when they took the lead thanks to two Dan Retter penalties. However, as the half progressed, there were ominous signs as the scrum was being nudged backwards and Clevedon’s catch-and-drive play at the lineouts was gaining valuable ground, as well as sapping the energy of the Sidmouth eight.
The home side eventually regained the lead when they turned over the ball at a ruck on the Sidmouth 22 and the scrum half broke down the blind side for a second unconverted try. A penalty extended the lead before the Chiefs seemed to have a chance of levelling the scores in injury time. The ball was knocked loose in a tackle and snapped up to send George Locke on a clear run upfield. Unfortunately the referee had spotted a knock on and he was recalled. The score remained 6-13 at the break.
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Clevedon, with their pack becoming increasingly dominant, started the second half strongly. A fine tackle by Harry Chesterton stopped a certain try before they increased their lead with a second penalty.
The yellow card for Nick Mills for an offence at a ruck came after a referee’s warning to the team for repeated offences. At the next scrum the Sidmouth pack were shunted back a full 30 metres. Following the mayhem, the Clevedon number eight drove over from close range.
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Three more tries followed in quick succession as the home pack took control. The scrum half darted over on the blind side of a scrum in the 22. The number eight drove over from close range after a period of pressure before he completed his hat trick with a pushover try.
None of these scores were given up easily as the Chiefs defended with great determination and continued to do so to keep their line intact under considerable pressure in the closing minutes.
For the Chiefs Nick Mills and Josh Bess were the pick of the forwards, while scrum half Christian Goddard and full back James Dyer had promising debuts.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the Chiefs entertain league newcomers Coney Hill from Gloucester. The kick off at the Blackmore is at 3pm.
The Quins travel to Tiverton for a Merit Table game while the Colts entertain Exeter Chiefs Colts at Sidford kicking off at 3pm.