Sidmouth Chiefs lack killer instinct

After taking two steps up the league, the Chiefs took a big one backwards in this close run encounter with fellow strugglers Torquay. Their own poor discipline in the first quarter and Torquay s more effective kicking game were the main factors dividing t

After taking two steps up the league, the Chiefs took a big one backwards in this close run encounter with fellow strugglers Torquay. Their own poor discipline in the first quarter and Torquay's more effective kicking game were the main factors dividing two well matched teams.

Played in fine conditions, and in front of a good crowd following the annual ex- players' lunch, it was an entertaining game, with both sides sharing six tries.

The Chiefs were always behind from the moment Torquay had weathered an early onslaught and their fly half opened the scoring with a penalty on the quarter hour.

Playing up the slope, Sidmouth dominated the opening stages. A clean break through the centre by Giles Dixon in the fourth minute almost brought a try and put his side in a strong attacking position. The forwards took play to the line but a penalty was conceded and the ball was cleared up field.

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The chiefs were soon back on the attack. A series of pick-and-drive plays by the forwards took them into the opposing 22 where a break by Glenn Channing was stopped only a few metres short of the line. This time a knock-on relieved the hard-pressed defence.

However, Sidmouth were conceding too many penalties and, as the count rose, Torquay were allowed to get into the game. They took the lead when one of the offences was converted for three points and, when the referee eventually lost patience and sent Andrew Dare to the sin bin, the game swung decisively in favour of the visitors.

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While he was off, the Tics added eight more points with a second penalty and a try by the full back, after a 50-metre break by the outside centre.

On Dare's return, the Chiefs rallied and reduced the arrears with a well taken try. Tom Whelan chased his own kick ahead and tackled the catcher in possession. He spilled the ball and the Chiefs started a handling move. The ball eventually reached Nathan Hannay 15 metres from the line and his powerful burst took him over for an unconverted try.

The lead was short-lived as Torquay restored the 11 point margin in first half injury time. Their hooker found a gap near the line after the forwards had advanced the ball through several phases. The unconverted try made the halftime score 5-16.

The Chiefs started the second half showing the same urgency as they had in the first and were soon rewarded with a second try. Another Giles Dixon break, supported by Tom Seward, took play into the Torquay 22. The forwards made further hard yards until replacement forward Jack Pyne burst over from short range. The try was unconverted but Glenn Channing kicked a penalty after Steve Trim and Sam Richardson had combined to rob the scrum half at the base of a scrum.

In the middle of the half, the fly halves swapped penalties so that the game entered the last quarter finely balanced at 16-19.

Then, with 15 minutes to go, the Chiefs got their noses in front for the first time with a well worked try from a familiar source. Nathan Hannay linked with Steve Trim on the blindside of a scrum on the Torquay 10 metre line. He sent Tom Seward sprinting down the left touchline before receiving a return pass to finish the move in the corner. Glenn Channing converted from the touchline to open up a four-point lead.

A year ago it would have been a fair bet that the Chiefs would have closed out the game. Now, whether it is inexperience or lack of confidence, that killer instinct is lacking. Torquay were given opportunities and they took one when a lapse of concentration in defence left a gap for the outside centre to exploit. His pace took him clear to the full back and a well timed pass sent the full back in at the corner. The conversion meant that Sidmouth needed a try to regain the lead.

They put up a spirited effort in the last 5 minutes but the score remained unchanged.

l On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Avonmouth Old Boys whose well-rehearsed kicking game will severely test the Sidmouth back three. At the Blackmore, the Quins entertain an Exeter University XV for a friendly, kicking off at 2.30pm. At Sidford the Colts take on Barnstaple in a Merit Table game which also kicks off at 2.30pm.

The 3rd Team travel to Barnstaple for a Merit Table game.

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