Sidmouth Chiefs see off Keynsham to net first win of 2020

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2752. Picture: Terry

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2752. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs gained their first victory of 2020 in a hard-fought game against Keynsham, who were making their first ever visit to the Blackmore Field and were beaten 23-18, writes Terry O’Brien.

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2752. Picture: Terry

Sidmouth Chiefs win at home to Newton Abbot by 32 points to 9. Ref shsp 44 19TI 2752. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

It was not a classic, there were too many mistakes for that, but it kept the supporters' attention for the full 80 minutes, with the result on doubt until the final whistle.

Keynsham kicked off on a heavy pitch with perfect overhead conditions and Sidmouth were soon defending a lineout five metres from their line. They did well to win the ball and clear it up-field.

On the first visit into Keynsham territory, the visitors knocked on as they tried to run the ball out of their 22.

The Chiefs moved the ball into space on the right, where Cameron Grainger sent Sam Meadham sprinting in for the opening score.

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The try was unconverted. In the process Meadham was injured and had to leave the field. He would return later to make an important intervention.

Keynsham levelled the scores on the quarter hour when they worked an overlap for the left winger to sprint over in the corner for an unconverted try. Five minutes later, they took the lead with a well struck penalty by the outside centre.

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Dan Retter levelled the scores a few minutes later after the Chiefs had regained possession from the restart kick and drawn a penalty from a forward drive.

The Chiefs took the lead with a second try when the forwards drove a lineout maul deep into the opposing 22 and Cameron Grainger broke to set up a ruck. The forwards advanced the ball to the line, where Rabbie Hansford drove over.

Keynsham kicked a second penalty in the closing minutes to make the half time score 13-11.

The Chiefs made a purposeful start to the second half and kept play in Keynsham territory for much of the third quarter.

They almost scored from a lineout catch-and-drive play but were held up on the line. And, minutes later, Will Griffiths was tackled just short following a slick move on the blindside of a scrum.

The pressure was eventually rewarded from another move on the blindside of a scrum. Cameron Grainger broke to the right before giving a short pass to George Locke, who broke through the first line of defence. Grainger then looped around to take a return pass and sprint over near the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion.

The Chiefs seemed to be taking control, but that all changed when Peli Vea was yellow carded midway through the half. Keynsham kicked the resulting penalty to touch inside the Sidmouth 22 and mauled the ball over for a try from 15 metres out.

The conversion closed the gap to just two points.

Dan Retter kicked a second penalty with ten minutes to go to relieve some of the pressure, but five minutes later came a moment of déjà vu, all over again.

The award of a penalty wide out on the right just inside the Keynsham half provided options and, as in the Devonport Services game, the choice made was to kick for goal. As on that occasion the ball dropped short and a counterattack was launched. The Chiefs were soon defending a lineout just outside their own 22 metre line.

The final minutes were played out inside the Sidmouth 22 with the Chiefs defending desperately.

A Sam Meadham try-saving tackle on the left winger, who looked certain to score, typified, and was the highlight of a fine rear-guard action.

When Keynsham were penalised for collapsing a scrum deep into injury time, the touch kick was followed by the final whistle to the relief of Sidmouth players and supporters alike.

On Saturday (January 25) the Chiefs have a week off. There is action at the Blackmore Field with the Colts entertaining Topsham Colts, kicking off at 2.30pm. The Quins are also in action when they travel to play Exeter Athletic 2nds.

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