Sidmouth Chiefs serve up encouraging display against Chard

Sidmouth 2nds played Cullompton at the weekend. Ref shsp 8676-09-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Sidmouth 2nds played Cullompton at the weekend. Ref shsp 8676-09-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth rugby club took a large squad of players to Chard for their first warm-up match in preparation for the league season, which starts on September 5, writes Terry O’Brien.

The players and coaching team will have gained much encouragement by outscoring the hosts, who played two leagues above them last season, 29-25.

The match was played in four quarters of 20 minutes with players being rotated at regular intervals.

There was a marked contrast in styles between the two teams, with Chard displaying their traditional strength in the set pieces, while Sidmouth looked to move the ball into the open spaces at every opportunity. Consequently the home side’s five tries came from set pieces near the Sidmouth line, whereas Sidmouth’s five were the result of opportunism and slick handling. Dan Retter’s two conversions were the difference between the two sides.

Sidmouth opened the scoring with a converted try, when scrum half Paul Richardson jinked his way over following a quick tap penalty. Richardson, who had an excellent game, is a New Zealander who has signed on for the season.

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Sidmouth found themselves defending for much of the quarter but showed the potential of their backs when they won a scrum against the head near their own line and quickly moved the ball wide. James Powell made the initial running before sending Giles Dixon sprinting up the left wing to take play into the opposing 22.

However, Chard soon worked their way back up the field to score a try from a lineout catch-and-drive play in the final minute of the session.

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The second quarter proved to be the most entertaining, with play moving rapidly from end to end. The combination of Tom Seward and Rory O’Brien in the centre proved to be highly effective throughout and they combined well to create the second try. Seward made a powerful break to set up a ruck inside the Chard 22.

The ball was quickly recycled and O’Brien’s short burst and well-timed pass drew in defenders to create space for Jevon Astley-Jones to go over in the corner.

Chard replied with a well-constructed try, when the number eight supported a move to the right of a scrum near the Sidmouth line to crash over.

Sidmouth finished the quarter strongly to create a second try for Astley-Jones. George Jarman did well to break from a retreating scrum on the Chard 22. When he was stopped, the ball was quickly recycled and moved into the open. Tom Seward and James Powell both mad ground before the wingman provided the finishing touch to make the score 17-15 at the halfway point.

Chard dominated the third quarter to take the lead with two tries. The first was scored by the hooker following a slick move around the front of a lineout. The number eight scored his second with a powerful burst from the base of a five metre scrum.

The Sidmouth players showed a good level of fitness to overhaul their opponents in the final quarter. Stuart Bickerstaff evaded several defenders to force his way over following a scrum ten metres from the line.

The try of the match provided a splendid finale to an entertaining afternoon. Jevon Astley-Jones, now playing at full back, fielded a kick on his own 22 to start a counter-attack. Tom Seward and Rory O’Brien made breaks and found plenty of support to send George Jarman over in the left corner.

Next Thursday (August 27), Sidmouth play their final warm-up game against Withycombe at the Blackmore Field kicking off at 7pm.

The rugby club has finalised an extensive programme of events during the Rugby World Cup in September and October. Details can be found on the club’s website.

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