Thirty eight year wait is over
Brixham 1st XV 11, Sidmouth Chiefs 15 - Brixham teams of old would have had this game done and dusted by half time but the Fishermen are not the force they once were.
Brixham teams of old would have had this game done and dusted by half time but the Fishermen are not the force they once were and this Sidmouth side has the spirit and backbone to prevail against the odds. And so it was that a little bit of history was made as the Chiefs achieved their first victory at Astley Park since 1970 to continue their rise up the league table. After a horrible first 10 minutes, during which they were lucky to concede only three points, the Chiefs recovered to produce an heroic second half performance up the slope and against the wind.Five minutes into the game the Chiefs had conceded as many penalties and Nathan Hannay was on his way to the sin bin for repeated infringements. They spent the next five minutes desperately defending on their own line. The number 8 forced his way over from a scrum but was prevented from touching down. Eventually Brixham had to be content with a penalty kicked by their fly half.At the first Sidmouth attack a defender strayed offside in front of his posts and Dan Retter kicked the penalty to level the scores. However, Brixham continued to dominate the first quarter and soon regained the lead with another penalty.Midway through the half the Chiefs produced their best move when Steve Trim took a quick tap penalty on halfway and burst into the home 22 before releasing Ashley Cooper down the right wing. He was pulled down five metres from the line and, when the ball was recycled, it was moved swiftly to the left where Andy Matchett was stopped two metres short. A penalty allowed Brixham to relieve the pressure.The Chiefs remained on top and Dan Retter saw a long range penalty attempt rebound off an upright before levelling the scores with a more straightforward effort.The Chiefs failed to control the ball from the resulting restart kick and found themselves under pressure on their line. A Brixham knock on gave them a scrum but they failed to control the ball which squirted out the side for the Brixham scrum half to scoop up. He was stopped on the line by the combined efforts of Cooper and Retter but when the ball emerged from the resulting ruck the blindside was unmarked and the wingman was put in for a simple try. The conversion was unsuccessful.With five minutes of the half remaining, the Brixham hooker was yellow carded for an infringement at a ruck. The Chiefs used their extra man to apply pressure and Dan Retter reduced the arrears at halftime to just two points with another penalty. With the wind and slope in his favour, the Brixham fly half began to kick for position but found Jamie Wardrop in rock solid form and well supported by his wingmen. Also the Sidmouth backs began to make an impression. Quick recycling from a ruck following a powerful run by Jack Pyne gave the backs some space and quick handling gave Andy Matchett a run up the left wing. Three defenders were required to halt his progress. Further good combination work kept up the pressure and when the full back was caught in possession inside his 22 a flanker was yellow carded for entering the ruck dangerously. Dan Retter kicked the resulting penalty to put his side in the lead.Harry Chesterton was a constant threat to the home defence and one break gave Andy Matchett another run which was only halted a few metres from the goal line. Then a moment's lack of concentration allowed Brixham to push them off a scrum ball. They ran the ball out of defence before kicking downfield to create a pressure position they would keep for several anxious minutes.They worked the ball patiently through the phases. Twice the Brixham forwards drove close, only to be held. Eventually they released the ball to the backs and looked certain to score with the full back making the extra man but somehow Chesterton got across to tackle the right winger into touch a couple of metres short. A knock on at the resulting lineout gave the Chiefs a scrum five metres from the line. They held it rock steady and Retter cleared up field. The Chiefs watched a long range penalty attempt drift just wide of the uprights before launching one last attack. With one minute to go Dan Retter dropped a goal to put the result beyond doubt.