Sidmouth Quins show skill

Tiverton RFC 2nds 30,

Sidmouth RFC Quins 13

The Quins’ last away game of the season was a good reflection of the majority of their games this campaign; rare moments of quality but plenty of indecisiveness, naivety and lack of self belief, writes Bryn Thomas.

If the Quins want to improve next season they need to cut these errors down considerably. Their league position is, I am sad to say, where they deserve to be on the evidence of the majority of performances this season. A team with so many skilful players should not be so low in the table.

The Quins kicked off into a strong wind and were behind within the opening eight minutes. Tiverton broke away from near halfway to score under the posts and open up an early 7-0 lead. Tiverton almost extended their lead minutes later from a penalty but the kick drifted just wide.

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The Quins’ first real attack after 15 minutes looked very promising to begin with after a good maul and some decent handling. Unfortunately, Tiverton turned the ball over at a ruck and again broke away to score in the right corner; the tricky conversion was off target. Tiverton would have gone further ahead, but for a fantastic last-ditch tackle by Ben Salter.

The Quins were soon to enjoy a spell of pressure which would eventually result in a try for hooker Neil Barratt. The try came about following a series of four or five quick rucks and some very good handling. A little chip behind the defence by Josh Reed looked to have halted the move, but captain Stuart Bickerstaff somehow managed to get hold of the ball and make the decisive break before passing to Barratt who “sprinted” over in the corner. The conversion attempt by Ben Pratt was just off target.

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The Quins were soon on the attack again but could not force their way over. An error at a lineout gifted position to Tiverton. The home side broke out from their 22 and were not only denied a try but another fine Salter tackle. The home side almost scored a third try but the referee adjudged the Tiverton player made a double movement when grounding the ball over the line; this allowed the Quins to clear although momentarily. An easy penalty in front of the posts saw Tiverton extend their lead only for the Quins to reply with a penalty via the boot of Pratt on the half-time whistle.

The opening five or 10 minutes of the second period were scrappy neither side managing to take command; until a missed tackle by the Quins allowed Tiverton their fourth try of the day.

The Quins’ task of fighting back was dealt a blow when prop Ben Halford was shown a yellow card for fighting with his opposite number following a scrum. The home team only just managed to take advantage of their numerical supremacy by scoring a fifth try after some dogged Quins’ defence. Seconds after the try Halford returned to the pitch.

The Quins were next on the score sheet. A powerful scrum by the forwards gave Bickerstaff the platform to sneak over in the corner. The conversion by Pratt went agonisingly wide. Just as it seemed like the Quins were mounting a comeback the home side delivered the knock out blow. Simple handling by the Tiverton backs saw their winger score their sixth and final try.

The final 10 minutes saw the Quins mount a valiant effort but mistakes at crucial moments cost them dear. The last play of the game saw the ball held up over the Tiverton line but the referee was unsighted so could not give the try.

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