Sidmouth Chiefs suffer for poor first half show in Devonport Services defeat

Competitors at the start of the Four Trigs Race on Sidmouth Esplanade. Ref shsp 2711-07-15TI. Pictur

Competitors at the start of the Four Trigs Race on Sidmouth Esplanade. Ref shsp 2711-07-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth went down 33-19 to visiting Devonport Services, writes Terry O’Brien.

A strong second half revival could not make up for a disastrous first half, in which Devonport capitalised on a dominant scrum and a series of Sidmouth mistakes.

Six changes from the previous starting line up, highlighting a growing injury list, did not help the cause, as players had to quickly familiarise themselves with different personnel and, in some cases, positions.

Devonport kicked off in perfect conditions and were soon on the attack. When they won the first scrum against the head, alarm bells were ringing loudly.

A five metre scrum awarded to the visitors looked ominous, but the Chiefs eight held their ground well. The defence remained solid, with one memorable tackle by Joe Briggs preventing a certain try, but they could find no way of relieving the pressure.

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When the Chiefs failed to control the ball at the back of a scrum inside the 22, Devonport turned over possession and, following a ruck close to the line, the fly half darted over for the opening try, which he also converted.

Poor clearance kicks, compounded by lackluster chasing and missed tackles gifted two more tries in quick succession. For the first, the full back made the running for the left winger to finish off. The next was a solo effort by the left winger himself from halfway, when a penalty clearance failed to make touch. The fly half added the conversion.

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The bonus point try came when the number eight broke clear from a scrum on halfway before putting the right winger in at the corner. The try was also converted.

With two minutes left in the half, the Chiefs had their first spell in attack, but a handling error brought a promising move to an end, leaving the half time score at 26-0 to the visitor’s.

No doubt some forthright words were had during the break. Whatever they were, it worked as the Chiefs tore into their opponents from the kick off. They forced an attacking lineout to set up a maul, which they drove over the line, but could not ground the ball.

Devonport cleared the danger briefly before a Giles Dixon run took play back into the 22. After a series of rucks took play to the line, Rhys Thomas forced his way over for a try converted by Dan Retter.

Unfortunately they failed to secure the ball from the restart kick, putting Devonport on the attack. They won a scrum against the head deep inside the Sidmouth 22 and scored from a move on the blindside. The conversion left the Chiefs with a mountain to climb.

Two quick tries gave hope that they might just make the summit.

A break by Sam Meadham took play into the 22, where the forwards took over for a couple of phases. When the ball came into the open, Dan Retter dummied his way through a gap to create a try for Jack Madge. Retter added the conversion.

With his side under intense pressure, the visitor’s scrum half was yellow carded for preventing a quick tap penalty. When the kick was retaken, the ball was quickly transferred to an overlap on the right for Joe Briggs to score in the corner.

With 20 minutes to go hope was reignited but, despite play being concentrated in the Devonport half, the Chiefs failed to add to their score.

On Saturday, the Chiefs travel to Teignmouth to take on the new league leaders in the quarter-final of the Devon Intermediate Cup.

At the Blackmore Field, the Quins entertain Exmouth 2nds in a friendly match and there’s action also for the Colts who travel to Barnstaple.

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