Sidmouth suffer scrum woes as they match University try for try

Sidmouth chiefs at home to Devonport services. Ref shsp 2587-07-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth chiefs at home to Devonport services. Ref shsp 2587-07-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs did matched high-flying Exeter Univeristy try for try, buyt ultimately went down 24-17, writes Terry O’Brien.

Chiefs staged a late revival to earn a bonus point after the students had capitalised on their perenial achillies heel, the scrum, to build up a 24-point lead, which lasted until the 68th minute.

Sidmouth were further handicapped by the late withdrawal of skipper Dan Retter, leaving them without a recognised goal kicker.

The Chiefs played their part in an open, entertaining game despite a strong diagonal wind. Had their finishing been more accurate, they might have achieved a bonus point win against the strong student line up.

The Chiefs started in fine style with a multi-phase play started from a scrum on halfway in which they retained possession for four minutes. Unfortunately, with the line in sight, they eventually lost patience and kicked the ball away to end the splendid sequence, which will have delighted coach Mark Beavis.

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With the wind at their backs, the University were soon on the attack. The Chiefs broke out briefly with a good handling move, but the students had them pinned in their own half for much of the first quarter. The Chiefs defence was solid until they lost a scrum against the head near their own line. A break by the number eight drew in defenders and, when the ball was released into the open, the full back joined the line to open the scoring with a converted try.

The Chiefs seemed to be about to draw level when Tom Seaward broke from his own half and sent Ben Salter on a clear run to the posts. However, the referee judged the pass to be forward.

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The University increased their lead with a penalty before breaks by Harry Chesterton and Tom Seward opened up the defence, but both moves broke down with handling errors inside the opposing 22.

In first half injury time, a break by the University fly half in broken play created a second try for the full back. The conversion made the half time score 0-17.

The University started the second half as the Chiefs had the first, with a fine piece of continuity, which ended with the inside centre crossing the line but unable to ground the ball. However, from the resulting scrum, they scored a push over try touched down by the scrum half. The try was converted.

With play continuing to flow from end to end, the Chiefs opened up the University defence with a good handling move following a quick tap penalty. But, again, the move ended with a handling error. A similar move by the University backs was brought to an end with a splendid try-saving cover tackle by Charlie Cotton.

Scrum half Jay Wright was having a fine game with his running and quick service keeping the tempo high. His break from a quick tap penalty on halfway started a handling move which put Ben Salter in space on the right. He sprinted into the 22 before passing inside for Tom Seward to score an unconverted try.

In the last minute of normal time, good driving by the forwards set up Christian Edbrooke on a powerful run, which took him within a couple of metres from the line. When the ball was recycled, Ben Halford forced his way over for a second unconverted try.

From the restart kick the Chiefs launched a handling move from just outside their own 22. Both Charlie Cotton and George Locke made good ground before the latter sent Tom Seward racing in under the posts. Jay Wright kicked the conversion to earn a bonus point and open up an opportunity to draw the game, but the University held out for the short time remaining.

The Dukes Man of the Match award went to Jay Wright.

On Saturday the Chiefs entertain third-placed Kingsbridge, who will be hoping for a shot at promotion if Exeter University fail to overturn a 50 point deduction imposed for fielding ineligible players. The kick off at the Blackmore Field is at 2.30pm.

The Quins travel to play Okehampton 2nds.

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