Sidmouth Chiefs power to big final league game victory

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Rugby generic picture - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs finished the league season in style and gained a confidence boost before Saturday’s Devon Intermediate Cup final against Cullompton with an outstanding performance against third-placed St Austell, ultimately defeating the Cornish side 67-17 in perfect conditions, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Cornishmen’s drive for promotion has stalled in recent weeks as injuries have taken their toll, but this does not detract from an outstanding fifteen-man performance by Sidmouth.

The backs demonstrated their outstanding finishing ability, but it was the forwards who laid the platform. Josh Bess dominated the lineouts and, along with Sione Livai and Ollie Pyne, got the Chiefs on the front foot with powerful bursts over the gain-line.

The Chiefs went straight on the attack from the kick-off and soon took the lead with a Dan Retter penalty.

Two tries followed in quick succession. Sam Meadham broke out of his own 22 and Harry Chesterton provided the link to Luke Wells-Burr. The wingman’s inside pass sent Rory O’Brien on a sprint to the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.

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Minutes later, Wells-Burr was the finisher on the end of a move again started in the Sidmouth 22. The try was converted.

Any thoughts of a rout at this stage were dispelled as the visitors dominated the middle of the half and deservedly cut the arrears when the number eight touched down a pushover try from a five-metre scrum. The fly half converted.

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When the Chiefs won a scrum against the head inside the St Austell 22, quick handling gave Luke Wells-Burr room to sprint over in the corner for an unconverted try.

St Austell responded strongly and were rewarded when their powerful inside centre broke through a couple of tackles to score a converted try.

Skipper Ollie Pyne broke from the base of a scrum on halfway to start a move, which saw Luke Wells-Burr and Rory O’Brien exchange passes down the right wing before the former completed his hat trick.

In first half injury time, the St Austell fly half kicked a penalty to make the half-time score 27-17.

The Chiefs dominated the second half, with Ethan Mead scoring a hat-trick within 15 minutes of the restart. After good approach work by the forwards, he joined the line between the centres to burst over near the posts.

Next, he finished off a counterattack from a clearance kick. Then he finished off a handling move following a turnover inside his own 22 with Sam Meadham making the initial running.

In between these, Ryan Davies forced his way over from the base of a ruck near the line after Luke Wells-Burr had been tackled just short. Dan Retter kicked three of the conversions.

Replacement centre Ben Pratt got on the score sheet, when cut a good angle to burst through and over near the posts following a five metre scrum.

In injury time, strong runs by Ollie Pyne and Sione Livai created space for the backs and Sam Meadham put the finishing touch to some good handling.

The final action of the season takes place on Saturday, when the Chiefs travel to play Cullompton in the final of the Devon Intermediate Cup. The kick-off at Stafford Park is at 3pm.

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