Sidmouth Chiefs record their ‘finest win of the term’ with Devonport Services success

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to St Ives. Ref shsp 04-17TI 5898. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Chiefs at home to St Ives. Ref shsp 04-17TI 5898. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The Chiefs notched up their best win of the season against third placed Devonport Services to dent their opponents promotion hopes in an exciting game at the Rectory Field that saw the Chiefs win 28-23, writes Terry O’Brien.

The was an enthralling game of contrasting styles between teams of equal standard.

The Chiefs three tries came on the run and through the hands, whereas the Services three came from close-range forward power. Tom Whelan’s five successful kicks out of six proved to be the deciding factor.

Sidmouth made the early running and only a desperate tap tackle prevented Sam Meadham from scoring in the third minute. However, Services opened the scoring with a penalty kicked by the fly half on their first visit into the Sidmouth 22.

Tom Whelan put his side in the lead with a converted try on the quarter mark after backs and forwards had combined through several phases, which stretched the defence. The fly half found a gap and rounded the full back to touch down under the posts.

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Two Whelan penalties extended the lead before Services replied with an opportunist try. With the Chiefs under pressure near their own line, a Services forward scooped up the loose ball and powered his way over. The try was unconverted.

In the final minute of the half, it was Sidmouth’s turn to benefit from a dropped ball. George Locke picked up on his own 10 metre line and set off upfield. He timed his pass perfectly to send Rory O’Brien sprinting over in the left corner. Tom Whelan added the conversion to make the half time score 20-8.

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Services came roaring back at the start of the second half.

After a period of pressure near the Sidmouth line, a forward forced his way over following a quick tap penalty. The fly half kicked the conversion.

With their forwards on the front foot, Services continued to dominate possession and keep play in the Sidmouth half. They eventually drew level, when the number eight broke from a five metre scrum and took two defenders over with him. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

The previous week’s second half collapse was fresh in the mind but the Chiefs responded well and regained the lead with a fine try.

Again, good ball retention through the phases pressurised the defence until a good handling move gave Jeremy Massey-Birch a bit of space on the right wing 30 metres out. He handed off his opposite number and outpaced the cover to dive over in the corner.

Tom Whelan’s conversion attempt was his only miss of the afternoon but he was soon on target again with a well-struck penalty.

Services finished the game strongly but could not break down the determined Sidmouth defence. They could only manage a penalty to earn a losing bonus point.

On Saturday, the Chiefs entertain Exeter University in a rearranged Devon Senior Cup 2nd round tie. The kick off at the Blackmore Field is at 2.30pm. There will be a free buffet for supporters available in the bar from 1pm.

The Quins have a week off, while the Colts play Stonehouse Sharks at Sidford kicking off at 2.30pm.

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