Third defeat in four games is a huge blow to Sidmouth Chiefs’ promotion hopes

Sam Dearsley is held up by Sidmouth rivals (pic John Podpadec)

Sam Dearsley is held up by Sidmouth rivals (pic John Podpadec) - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Chiefs suffered their third defeat in four games on their first ever visit to Winscombe, and the 25-21 loss drops them to third place and out of the league promotion/play-off places for the present, writes Terry O’Brien.

A high penalty count and recurring problems in the set pieces proved to be their undoing. The lineouts went awry from the start and Winscombe took charge in the scrums in the closing stages after changes had been made to the Sidmouth formation. Two yellow cards, one in each half, did help the cause.

This game got under way for the fourth time of asking in dry but windy conditions and it was the home side who settled first to build up a six-point lead midway through the first half thanks to two penalty goals.

The Chiefs took the lead thanks to an individual try by Rory O’Brien.

Playing at full back, he fielded a wayward kick inside his own half and set off on a run leaving two defenders in his wake on his way to the line.

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Dan Retter added the conversion. The Chiefs held on to the slender one-point lead into half time.

Early in the second half, the Chiefs extended their lead with a well-worked threequarters move, which brought Rory O’Brien into the line. He timed his pass well to send Luke Wells-Burr on a sprint to the line. The try was converted by Dan Retter.

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Winscombe pressure paid off when the open side flanker burst through the defensive line for an unconverted try.

The Chiefs regained the initiative when Luke Wells-Burr chased a well-judged Dan Retter grubber kick to gather the awkwardly bouncing ball and dive over the line. Retter kicked the conversion to open up a nine-point gap.

With 10 minutes to go, Chiefs were reduced to 14 men following the departure of Jack Pyne to the sin-bin, and Winscombe scored from a pushover try touched down by the number eight.

A few minutes later, Winscombe once again benefited from the extra man in the pack to score from a lineout catch-and-drive play. The conversion completed the scoring.

With just four points separating the top four teams going into the last four games, the title race is wide open and bonus points could make all the difference.

Wellington have the momentum after their convincing win against Crediton. This Saturday’s match between St Austell and Crediton could decide the fate of either team.

On Saturday (March 23) the Chiefs entertain Falmouth, needing a convincing win to restore confidence and keep their title hopes alive. The kick-off at the Blackmore Field is at 3pm.

The Quins have been awarded a walkover against Torrington 2nds, who are unable to raise a side.

They are now guaranteed a top two finish and a place in the Dave Butt Cup semi-final. They await the outcome of Ilfracombe’s final two games to decide the title.

Looking at the reamining games in the Tribute Western Counties division with regard to the title, the remaining games are:

For SIDMOUTH – they go to Falmouth (March 23), then host Kingsbridge (March 30) before entertaining Paignton (April 6) and then visiting Saltash on the final Saturday of the season, April 13.

CREDITON – Travel to St Austell next (March 23), then host Tiverton (March 30) before they visit Truro (April 6) and then end their campaign with an April 13, home meeting with Wadebridge Camels.

WELLINGTON – Travel first to Wadebridge Camels (March 23) and then Winscombe (March 30) before entertaining Bideford (April 6) and they end their league campaign with an April 13 trip to Chard.

ST AUSTELL – Begin their run-in with a March 23 home game against Crediton before a March 30, trip to Falmouth. They then host Kingsbridge on April 6, before ending their challenge with an April 13 trip to Paignton.

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