Sidmouth Chiefs suffer tough baptism at higher level with defeat at Cleve

Sidmouth at home to Paignton. Ref shsp 15 19TI 1990. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth at home to Paignton. Ref shsp 15 19TI 1990. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs were given clear notice that rugby in the South West League West is a big step up from last year after they went down 36-15 at Cleve on matchday one of the new term, writes Terry O’Brien.

They made a bright start with two excellent tries scored in the first quarter but were eventually worn down by a bigger side which was adept at retaining possession for long periods. However, two tries in injury time did inflate the final score-line.

Cleve took the early initiative when they kicked a penalty into the Sidmouth 22. They kept possession for multiple phases but could not break down the well-organised and determined Sidmouth defence.

A knock on eventually ended the siege and the Chiefs worked their way upfield. From a scrum just inside the Cleve half, Ethan Mead came from the blindside wing to join the line between the centres. He cut clean through and timed his pass well to send Luke Wells-Burr sprinting over in the left corner. The try was unconverted.

The Chiefs were soon back on the attack and scored a second try when Matt Farrington turned over possession at a breakdown inside the Cleve 22. The ball was moved quickly along the backline to an overlap on the left for Chris Higgs to touch down. Dan Retter added the conversion.

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The lead was comfortably maintained until two minutes before halftime, when an attempted clearance kick was charged down inside the Sidmouth 22. Cleve regained the ball and maintained pressure until the fly half dummied his way through to score under the posts. The try was converted to make the halftime score 15-7.

Cleve started the second half with a short kick off, catching the Sidmouth players off guard. They regained the ball and set up an attack finished off by the left winger sprinting over in the corner. The unsuccessful conversion left the scores tied.

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A Dan Retter penalty regained the lead, but by the hour mark, Cleve were beginning take control.

They took the lead when the hooker peeled off a lineout maul to dive over for an unconverted try.

They extended it a few minutes later, when a forward forced his way over from close range after a long period of pressure on the Sidmouth line. The conversion opened up a nine-point lead.

There was still hope of gaining a bonus point when a good handling move took play into the Cleve half with 10 minutes to play.

When James Powell was tackled, a fight broke out resulting in a player from each side being sent to the sin bin.

With the game entering injury time, Cleve won a scrum against the head ten metres from the Sidmouth line and the number eight powered his way over to end any hopes of a revival.

From the restart kick, the Chiefs were awarded a scrum on the Cleve 22. With the Sidmouth scrum going backwards, the ball squirted out the side and was scooped up by the home scrum half.

He sprinted into the Sidmouth half where he found support from his fellow backs to set up a move finished off by the number eight scoring his second try. The successful conversion was followed by the final whistle.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Chiefs begin their home fixtures of the new league campaign with the visit to the Blackmore of a Crediton side that were promoted with the Chiefs at the end of last season. Kick-off is at 3pm.

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