Sidmouth lose opener at Burnham-on-Sea
- Credit: Archant
With several players unavailable for various reason, the Chiefs travelled to Burnham-on-Sea for the first league game of the season with a much rearranged side, including six debutants and went down 22-7, writes Terry O.Brien.
Injuries during the game added to the challenge. Despite the disruptions, the side played with great commitment and skill, which merited a closer scoreline.
In a game played in persistent rain, the home side settled first and were soon pressing inside the Sidmouth 22. The defence proved to be well-organised and resolute. The forwards tackled well around the fringes and centres Tom Hodge and George Locke shored up the midfield, preventing the Burnham backs from crossing the gainline.
Chiefs eventually broke out with a good clearance kick by returning fly half Tom Whelan.
Chiefs showed their attacking potential, when James Salter broke from the base of a scrum on halfway and linked with John Selway. The newly signed scrum half broke clear down the right and linked with Mark Peters on the wing to take play into the Burnham 22.
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With a solid scrum and James Salter and Brad Cooke winning good lineout ball, the Chiefs enjoyed a good share of possession. They put together some promising handling moves but were unable to outflank the well-organised home defence.
When Tom Whelan kicked a penalty to the corner to set up a lineout, the forwards set up a maul and drove close but could not reach the line. However, they kept up the pressure with Aiden Taylor and Tom Whelan getting within a metre of the line before a penalty offence enabled Burnham to clear upfield.
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Burnham produced a splendid handling move initiated when the left winger fielded a kick. They took play from their own line to within a few metres of the Sidmouth line, where they were awarded a penalty. The fly half kicked the goal to open the scoring. Burnham finished the half strongly but could not add to their score.
However, Chiefs would start the second half with a depleated pack as Haydon Down left the field with an injury, while brother Connor was in the sin bin.
A minute into the second half the home full back launched a high kick into the Sidmouth 22 and followed up to benefit from a bounce, which left him a clear run to the line for an unconverted try.
This score inspired Burnham to their best spell of the game as they handled well in the wet conditions and kept possession through the phases effectively. They were rewarded with a try by the left winger on the blindside of a ruck inside the Sidmouth 22. The fly half added the conversion from wide out.
The Chiefs were further disrupted by the departures of Brad Cooke and Luke Wells-Burr due to injury, forcing them to empty their bench. Despite the disruption, the Chiefs fought their way back into the game. A long period of pressure inside the Burnham 22 produced six penalties in quick succession and a yellow card for a Burham player. The Chiefs elected not to kick for goal and were eventually rewarded with a try, when the forwards drove over from a lineout-catch-and-drive play. Aiden Taylor got the touchdown to cap an influential display. Tom Whelan added the conversion.
A try by the home fly half deep into injury time, which he also converted, was followed by the final whistle.
On Saturday the Chiefs entertain Truro on the Blackmore Field kicking off at 3pm.
The Quins travel to play Newton Abbot 2nds.
The Colts start their league campaign against Crediton Colts at Sidford with a 3pm kick off.