Sidmouth Chiefs power to opening day win at start of new league season
- Credit: Picture: Simon Horn
Sidmouth Chiefs made a flying start to the new season’s league campaign with a ten-try win against newly promoted Saltash, beating the Cornish side 64-7 at the Blackmore, writes Terry O’Brien.
The visitors posed a threat with ball in hand, but were denied a fair share of possession as the Sidmouth pack had the edge in the set pieces.
Once the backs found space, their pace and support play ruthlessly turned possession into points.
The Chiefs took the lead after just three minutes with a try involving the whole team to set the pattern for the game. Full back Sam Meadham started a move from deep inside his own half, which took play into the opposing 22.
The forwards worked the ball through four phases before the ball was released for Luke Wells-Burr to score on the overlap. The try was unconverted.
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Wells-Burr was soon in action at the other end with a try-saving tackle as Saltash piled on the pressure in the Sidmouth half for the next ten minutes giving the home defence a thorough workout.
A turnover at a lineout eventually enabled the Chiefs to break out and added to their score on the next visit into the visitors’ 22.
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Ethan Mead made the initial running and, when he was stopped, the ball was moved across field for league debutant Asipeli Vea to burst through three tackles on his way to the line. Dan Retter kicked the conversion.
A long run down the right wing by Luke Wells-Burr set up try number three, scored by Rhys Thomas bursting over on the blind side of a ruck near the line.
An injury to James Powell brought newly-returned Tom Hodge into the game just in time to see another debutant, Aaron Down, force his way over from close range to ensure a bonus point. Hodge then made the running for a try scored by Ethan Mead. Dan Retter converted both tries to make the half-time score 31-0.
The first try of the second half came from a well-judged grubber kick by Johnny Hammill down the blindside of a scrum. Luke Wells-Burr followed up to gather the bouncing ball, draw the full back and pass inside for Tom Seward to apply the finishing touch for a converted try.
Saltash got their reward for their attacking endeavour when a flanker broke through close to a ruck before sending his scrum half scampering in under the posts for the fly half to convert.
When a Saltash player dropped the ball on his own ten-metre line, Tom Hodge scooped it up and found an open field in front of him. He sprinted clear to score under the posts, leaving a simple conversion.
As the visitors tired, the Chiefs ran in three tries in the closing few minutes.
After a period of pressure near the line, Matt Farrington forced his way over. Luke Wells-Burr chased a box kick to benefit from a good bounce and, from the resulting restart kick, Ethan Mead finished off a handling move involving many players. The final whistle followed the unsuccessful conversion attempt.
On Saturday (September 8) the Chiefs are at home again when Winscombe pay their first visit to the Blackmore Field.
The kick-off is at the earlier time of 2.30pm.
The Quins and Colts have their first merit table games with the Quins travelling to play Withycombe 2nds and the Colts going over the hill to Honiton.