Sidmouth Chiefs throw away real opportunity at champions elect Brixham
Sidmouth 22, Brixham 35 Despite a commanding first half performance, and scoring three tries to two, the Chiefs failed to halt Brixham’s march to the league championship, writes Terry O’Brien.
In the end, the fishermen’s superior fitness and more disciplined approach, allied to the unerring boot of fly half Ben Lovell, proved to be decisive.
In front of a large crowd and in perfect conditions, the Chiefs made a perfect start. Pressure from the kick off forced a miss-kick, which was fielded by Sam Richardson. His pass put Tom Whelan through a gap and over for a try, which he also converted.
The drama quickly moved to the other end, where Brixham almost scored from a charged down kick but failed to gather the bouncing ball. However, it was not long before Lovell kicked the first of nine successful attempts at goal. Tom Whelan regained the seven point margin with a penalty of his own, before Lovell dropped a goal.
With play continuing at a fast and furious pace, the Chiefs increased their lead following a Whelan up-and-under. Under pressure, the Brixham full back failed to field the ball, which found its way into Sidmouth hands. The ball was moved to the right, where Sam Meadham jinked back inside before switching direction. Quick handling to the left found Josh Bess, who stepped inside the cover to score an unconverted try.
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A superb handling move from the restart kick almost brought another try, but play soon switched to the other end as the Sidmouth line came under intense pressure. Eventually the hooker was driven over for a try in a move which contained a distinct hint of obstruction. The conversion closed the gap to just two points.
Despite being reduced to 14 men, when Liam O’Connor was yellow carded, the Chiefs finished the half strongly. After the forwards had driven to halfway, Tom Whelan found a gap in the retreating defence and went all the way to touch down under the posts. He added the conversion to give a halftime lead of 22-13.
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From the kick off, Brixham camped inside the Sidmouth 22. After several phases, the Chiefs ran out of defenders and the outside centre slipped through to score a converted try.
An error of judgement and a lapse of concentration when they had Brixham under pressure resulted in the visitors breaking out to take the lead for the first time. A wayward kick ahead led to a 22 drop out, which they were allowed to take quickly. This set up a handling move, which went the length of the field. Good cover defence prevented a try, but the fly half dropped a goal.
In the final quarter Brixham showed better composure as the Chiefs kicked the ball away in attack and conceded a series of penalties. Lovell kicked four of them to seal the win for his side and deny the Chiefs a bonus point, which was the least they deserved for their contribution to an excellent game of rugby.
On Saturday the Chiefs take a rest while other teams catch up on games postponed from earlier in the season.
The Quins travel to Torquay.
At the Blackmore the Colts entertain Merit Table leaders Okehampton kicking off at 3.00pm. Following the match players and spectators will be able to watch the England v Ireland match on the big screen in the Clubhouse.
The Third Team play Ilfracombe 2nds at Sidford. The kick off is at 2.30pm.