Sidmouth Chiefs win the Devon Intermediate Cup
- Credit: Archant
The Chiefs finished the season in style, winning the Devon Intermediate Cup in dramatic fashion against South West League Cullompton at Stafford Park, defeating the Mid Devon men 27-24, writes Terry O’Brien.
At 24-10 down with 12 minutes to play and the Cullompton pack beginning to gain control, the cup looked to be going to the home team.
However, the Chiefs fought back to score three excellent tries in eight minutes to turn the tables and ensure the cup would be on display at the Blackmore clubhouse for the next 12 months.
Nerves were evident on both sides in the early stages as basic errors prevented either side from building up momentum. The first scoring opportunity came when the Cullompton full back fielded a clearance kick to initiate a move which was eventually snuffed out in front of the Sidmouth posts.
Cullompton were awarded a penalty at the resulting ruck and decided to opt for a scrum instead of the easy three points on offer. A decision they might come to regret.
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Instead, it was Sidmouth who took the lead midway through the half with an excellent move started by a Harry Chesterton break from a scrum inside his own 22.
When he was tackled, the ball was quickly recycled and Johnny Hamill exploited a gap on the blindside.
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Ethan Mead, Rory O’Brien and Sam Meadham linked well to progress the ball to the opposing 22 before Harry Chesterton put the finishing touch under the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion.
Cullompton saw a penalty attempt rebound from an upright before Harry Chesterton was yellow carded for an offence at a ruck on his own 22.
A quickly taken tap penalty set the Cullompton pack on a series of rucks until they reached the Sidmouth line, where the number six drove over for a try converted by the full back.
Using the extra man, Cullompton dominated the next ten minutes and eventually scored a second try, when the number eight forced his way over from the base of a five-metre scrum. The conversion opened up a seven-point lead, which they kept until half time.
The third quarter was evenly contested, with each side kicking penalties to progress the scores.
Midway through the half, Cullompton increased the lead when a forward drove over from the base of a ruck near the line after a long period of pressure. The try was converted.
When the Cullompton left winger was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle, it was Sidmouth’s turn to make use of the extra man.
A knock on by the Cullompton full back near his line gave the Chiefs an attacking position.
From the resulting scrum, they set up a series of rucks moving infield towards the posts.
When the ball was released to the backs, a long pass from Dan Retter found Ollie Pyne in space on the left wing and he sprinted over in the corner. Retter kicked the conversion from wide out.
From the restart kick, the Chiefs forwards drove forward and Sione Livai burst through two tackles and into open space. Cameron Grainger provided the link to send Luke Wells-Burr on a sprint down the right touchline.
In the narrow space available, his pace took him past two defenders to touch down in the corner. The try was unconverted leaving a deficit of two points with eight minutes to play.
With time running out, Cullompton were in the Sidmouth half and looked well capable of running down the clock until the fly half launched a diagonal kick for his right winger. Instead, Ethan Mead caught the ball above his head and did well to offload it to Rory O’Brien, while being tackled.
O’Brien had space in front of him and made ground towards the halfway line. His pass found Zac Bess in support with two defenders covering.
Replacement Bess had fresh legs and outpaced the cover to score the decisive try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Chiefs played out the remaining few minutes safely.