Sidmouth RFCs top 10 seasons - Double delight in the 2018/19 campaign

Honiton rugby action

Honiton rugby action - Credit: Archant

Continuing our on-going series of the ‘Top 10 seasons for Sidmouth RFC’ and today we look at the fourth placed campaign – season 2018/19, as selected, and then written, by Terry O’Brien.

Sidmouth RFC after winning the 2018/19 league title. Picture; SRFC

Sidmouth RFC after winning the 2018/19 league title. Picture; SRFC - Credit: Archant

The hardest part of this exercise has been placing the top four seasons in order.

I have changed my mind almost daily!

With 123 years separating them, deciding which was the best team would be invidious as I have only seen two of them play.

And the game has changed so much in that time.

Sidmouth RFC after their 2018/19 Intermediate Cup success. Picture: SIDMOUTH RFC

Sidmouth RFC after their 2018/19 Intermediate Cup success. Picture: SIDMOUTH RFC - Credit: Archant

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So, starting from the premise that the relevant first teams were comparable in standard at the club’s playing level, other factors have had to be considered.

As stated in the introduction to this exercise, the strength of the club’s 2nd XV, the quality of the opposition and the impact on the club at the time and in following seasons are other important factors.

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A big win against third place St Austell in the final game of the previous season followed by a dramatic victory in the final of the Devon Intermediate Cup away to Cullompton gave the Chiefs much confidence going into the 2018-19 season.

With Shaun Molton having moved to Bristol, Phil Dollman took over as head coach with fellow Exeter Chiefs player Mitch Leas arriving as forwards coach.

Ollie Pyne remained captain of a mainly unchanged first XV tam squad.

The first four games were won including away to well-fancied St Austell.

A draw at Truro was followed by eight consecutive wins, and a Devon team of the month award for November, to reach Christmas as clear leaders.

A defeat at home to St Austell halted the run. Then a marked drop in form through February and March, which resulted three defeats and a draw in five games, dropped them to third place with four games to go.

A comfortable win against Falmouth was followed by, what turned out to be a pivotal victory at Kingsbridge. After the home side had built up a comfortable lead, three unanswered tries in the final quarter turned matters around for a bonus point 31-26 win. With other results going their way, a bonus point win against Paignton put them back on top and the celebrations began after a 40-11 win in the final game at Saltash.

However, not for the first time in their history, a rival’s rule infringement had come to their assistance.

Earlier in the season Wellington had five points deducted, which ultimately spared the Chiefs the need to play off for promotion. The following Saturday them Blackmore Field was the stage for the Devon Intermediate Cup final against Crediton, who had finished second in the league.

The Chiefs hit their top form to win 39-19 to complete a league and cup double for another Club first. Meanwhile, the Quins notched up 15 wins and two walkovers to win the Devon Merit Table Two N/E.

Like the Chiefs, they were helped by a rule infringement by Exeter Engineers. Unfortunately, they did not have the confidence to accept promotion to Merit Table One.

As previously stated, the problem with assessing the teams in the modern era of league rugby is that the opposition play at the same level.

Teams rarely get tested against teams which normally play at a higher level. Promotion has enabled this team to play at a higher level and subsequently they have done so successfully.

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