Sidmouth Chiefs prevail in cliff-hanger
- Credit: Archant
The Chiefs progressed to the second round of the Devon Intermediate Cup as a result of a cliff-hanger of cup tie at the Rectory Field, Plymouth where they beat Devonport Services 27-24, writes Terry O’Brien.
The match was as evenly contested as the scoreline indicates, with Sidmouth just edging the first half and seeming to be taking control in the third quarter, only for Services to stage a late come back to level the game at full time and take the tie into extra time. This was equally evenly contested until a late penalty settled matters.
The Chiefs kicked off in perfect conditions and the game quickly developed into a fast moving affair but littered with errors and defenses dominating.
A break by Harry Chesterton, playing his first game of the season, looked likely to break the deadlock but a good defensive tackle saved the situation. The Chiefs maintained pressure near the Services line but met strong resistance until a penalty allowed the home side to clear upfield.
A brief period of Services pressure was well defended and the Chiefs were soon back on the offensive. A well-judged grubber kick by Paul Richardson turned the defence and, with Harry Chesterton chasing hard, Services were forced to concede a five metre scrum. Again the Chiefs were penalised and the danger was cleared.
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The Chiefs chose to tap and go two very kickable penalties until good sense prevailed on the third offering and Dan Retter kick his side into the lead on the half hour.
Services finished the half in the ascendancy but the Sidmouth defence held firm to keep their noses in front at the break.
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Seven minutes into the second half Zac Bess on the left wing fielded a Services diagonal kick out of defence and beat a couple of defenders before timing his pass perfectly to send Rory O’Brien in near the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion.
An well-judged attacking diagonal kick by the Services fly half bounced kindly for the left winger but a fine tackle by Luke Wells-Burr saved the day for his side.
Devonport maintained their attacking position and, when they won a scrum against the head, the fly half forced his way over the line but was prevented from grounding the ball. However, the pressure eventually told and the outside centre scored on the overlap against a stretched defence.
The Chiefs hit back almost immediately when another Services kick out of defence failed to find touch. Luke Wells-Burr fielded the ball on the right wing and sprinted into the 22 before finding Rory O’Brien in support to score his second try, which was also converted.
As the game moved into the final quarter of normal time, a Services forward was yellow carded but, rather than Sidmouth taking advantage, it galvanised the home side’s resolve. They scored two unanswered tries in quick succession.
A quick lineout caught the Chiefs napping and a long pass put the left winger in space where he outpaced the cover to score an unconverted try in the corner. Services were soon back on the attack as they kicked a penalty to touch in the corner. The ball seemed to be overthrown but was caught by a player at the rear, who forced his way over. The conversion levelled the scores.
In the last minute a Dan Retter penalty attempt could have won the game but the kick drifted just wide of the upright to take the game into extra time, ten minutes each way.
Midway through the first ten minutes, a long clearance kick was fielded by Sam Cavin, who started a counter attack. Zac Bess and Rory O’Brien combined to send Luke Wells-Burr on a run into the 22 and O’Brien was in support to complete his hattrick. Dan Retter converted.
Services were soon pressing on the Sidmouth line and, when the ball squirted out of side of a scrum, the forwards forced their way over. The try was well converted from the touchline to level the scores going in to the final ten minutes.
If the scores remained level, Devonport would go through as they had scored four tries to Sidmouth’s three.
With both sides tiring, a stalemate seemed to be likely until Dan Retter kicked a 40 metre penalty with three minutes left to play.
Devonport finished on the attack but the Sidmouth defence held out for the win.
On Saturday the two sides meet again in a league match at the Blackmore Field. The kick off is at 3.00pm.
The Quins travel to Devonport Services. Meanwhile the 3rds and Colts have a week off.