Sidmouth Chiefs suffer blow to title hopes with defeat at Crediton
- Credit: Archant
Crediton overtook Sidmouth Chiefs at the top of the Tribute Western Counties (W) league table following a hard-fought, close encounter at Exhibition Road that saw them win 18-10, writes Terry O’Brien.
Three tries to one, tells its own story and Crediton deserved the win as they scored on each occasion they established a position inside the red zone.
Meanwhile the Chiefs were unable to hold on to such positions, mainly due to the failings of their lineout.
Much of the game resembled trench warfare with well organised and determined defensive lines cancelling out honest attacking endeavour.
Both sides made errors under pressure but neither could capitalise as the gaps in the defensive walls were quickly closed.
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After 12 minutes of sparring, the Chiefs created the first opening when George Locke made a 40 metre break out of his own half. He had plenty of support but a knock on brought the promising move to an end.
The Crediton backs showed their potential with a good handling move but were penalised for obstruction as they entered the Sidmouth 22.
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A Johnny Hamill break was supported by the forwards, who advanced the ball into the opposing 22 through a series of rucks but a knock ended the promising play.
With the breeze in their favour the Chiefs continued to enjoy territorial advantage, but only had a missed penalty attempt to show for their efforts.
A good handling move by Crediton took play to the Sidmouth 22, where the visitors were penalised for pushing too early inn a scrum. A quick tap penalty initiated a move, which took play to the Sidmouth line. After a series of rucks, the ball was released to the backs and was quickly transferred to the right winger, who broke through a tackle to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try.
In first half injury time, Rory O’Brien cut the arrears to two points with a penalty.
With the breeze in their favour, Crediton opened the second half strongly to establish an attacking position inside the Sidmouth 22. In a repeat of the patient build up to their first try, they drew in the defenders before moving the ball to the right winger, who this time had a simple run in. The try was unconverted.
Midway through the half, the Crediton fly half increased the lead with a penalty after a break by the influential inside centre had created the position.
The Chiefs responded almost immediately, when they kicked a penalty to the corner for a lineout. They secured the ball and, from a set move, Peli Vea was tackled just short of the line.
After a couple of rucks had taken the ball infield, it was released to the backs and James Powell ran a good angle to cut through and score under the posts. Rory O’Brien added the conversion.
With five minutes to go, a comedy of errors led to the decisive score. With Crediton pressing on the Sidmouth line, the Chiefs turned the ball over in a maul only to immediately lose it again. The Crediton inside centre found the ball in his hands and the line at his mercy. He dived over for an unconverted try, which would deprive the Chiefs of a precious bonus point.
Straight from the restart kick, Crediton were penalised. The ball was kicked for a lineout in the 22 but the ball, and the chance of an important score, was lost.
To compound the Chiefs woes, in what remained of injury time, Peli Vea was sent off for throwing a punch.
With five games remaining, only six points separate the top four clubs.
With Crediton having to visit fellow contenders Wellington and St Austell, the Chiefs need to win their remaining games and hope other results go their way.
On Saturday (March 16) the Chiefs travel to play a rearranged game at Winscombe. The Quins travel to play South Molton 2nds.
There is no game at the Blackmore Field, but the clubhouse will be open to show the final games of the Six Nations Championship on the big screen. The bar will be open from 12pm.