Sidmouth give Camels the hump and return to the top of the table

Sidmouth Chiefs returned to the top of the Western Counties (W) table thanks to a 39-20 bonus point win against Wadebridge Camels, while close rivals Crediton drew at Falmouth, writes Terry O’Brien.

Wadebridge kicked off with a gusting diagonal wind in their favour and immediately regained possession to go on the offensive. They spent much of the opening ten minutes in Sidmouth territory but were unable to trouble the scoreboard.

By contrast, the Chiefs scored on their first visit into the opposing 22. They won a lineout on the 22- metre line and drove a maul to within ten metres of the goal line.

They then progressed the ball through a series of pick-and-drive plays until Haydon Down forced his way over from close range. Dan Retter added the conversion.

From the restart kick, Wadebridge held territorial advantage and eventually opened their account with a penalty kicked by the fly half, who would prove to be a thorn in the Chiefs’ side throughout the game.

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With Wadebridge soon back on the attack, the Chiefs extended their lead much against the run of play, when Cameron Grainger intercepted and ran in from 60 metres for a try converted by Retter.

The visitors attacking endeavours were eventually rewarded, when a lineout catch-and-drive play was finished of by the tight head prop peeling off and diving over on the blindside. The try was unconverted.

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Sam Meadham combining with Ethan Mead to run from deep inside their own half into the Wadebridge 22 provided a rare moment of flare for the home supporters to savour in the first half. From the position gained, Dan Retter kicked a drop goal.

Wadebridge finished the half strongly and in injury time the scrum half dummied his way over from a five-metre scrum. The fly half converted from the touchline to reduce the Sidmouth lead to 17-15 at the break.

From the restart kick, the Wadebridge fly half broke clear to sprint 50 metres upfield to put his side on the attack but a penalty enabled the Chiefs to clear danger and put themselves on the attack. For the first time the Chiefs were able to gain a firm foothold inside the opposing half, keeping the ball through several phases of possession. The back row was instrumental in keeping them on the front foot, with Matt Farrington leading in metres gained.

Dan Retter kicked a penalty before setting up Ethan Mead for a try from a well-judged grubber kick after the backs and forwards had combined effectively to set up the position.

With the Sidmouth backs beginning to show their paces, Luke Wells-Burr embarked on an exciting 50 metre run down the right touchline, leaving defenders in his wake, to set up an attacking position. Again, the Chiefs kept the pressure on in search of a bonus point fourth try. It came midway through the half, when the forwards drove a lineout maul over the line for Haydon Down to touch down his second try to cap a man-of-the match performance. Dan Retter converted.

The fifth try resulted from a superb move by the backs from a lineout on halfway. Good handling put full back Rory O’Brien into a gap before he sent Ethan Mead on a run down the left wing. O’Brien was then on hand to take an inside pass to finish the move off.

Wadebridge showed that they too could handle effectively with a fine move from halfway finished off by the hooker. The unsuccessful conversion attempt was followed by the final whistle.

On Saturday the Chiefs have a break from league rugby and so are next in action on Saturday week (October 2)0 when they travel to play third placed Wellington. It is set to be quite a challenge for the Somerset side have not been beaten on their home ground since April 2017.

On Saturday at the Blackmore the Quins entertain Exeter Engineers kicking off at 3pm.

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