Locke and Grainger tries seal another fine Sidmouth Chiefs success

PUBLISHED: 20:28 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 20:28 29 October 2018

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Sidmouth Chiefs remain top of the Western Counties (West) table after a 9-13 Blackmore victory over Bideford, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs eventually wore down Bideford to record a bonus point win after the visitors were reduced to 14 men for most of the second half of a game which failed to warm a good crowd braving the cold northerly breeze blowing down the Blackmore Field.

Sidmouth made a promising start with an early try set up by the forwards, with a driving maul from a lineout and finished by Haydon Down peeling off and driving over the line. Dan Retter added the conversion.

Bideford belied their lowly league position to rattle the Chiefs with hard running and tackling. They deservedly opened their account with a penalty after a period of pressure in Sidmouth territory.

Midway through the half it seemed normal service was resumed with a well-worked try after a run by Josh Bess put his forwards on the front foot. Quick delivery from a ruck just outside the Bideford 22 saw the ball reach Sam Meadham entering the line at pace. His inside pass put Tom Hodge through a gap to score near the posts leaving Dan Retter a routine conversion kick.

Bideford hit back immediately, when the Chiefs failed to control the ball from the restart kick. The visitors regained possession and they advanced the ball through a series of rucks until a forward drove over from close range for a converted try.

With the Chiefs in full cry attacking the Bideford line, a defender was yellow carded for an offence at a ruck in front of the posts. Instead of taking the three points on offer, the Chiefs opted for a scrum. With the visitors’ pack retreating rapidly it seemed that the decision would pay off, but the ball was knocked on and Bideford were not just able to clear the danger but were soon on the attack.

Bideford kicked a penalty in injury time to leave the Chiefs just one point ahead at half-time.

No sooner had their player returned from the sin bin than Bideford were reduced to 14 players once again. This time the cause was an injury to a second front row player resulting in the referee having to order uncontested scrums as a suitable front row replacement was not available. Regulations require that the injured player cannot be replaced in these circumstances.

The uncontested scrums nullified an area, which the Chiefs had been dominating, though had not been taking full advantage of.

The situation inspired Bideford to even greater effort and the next ten minutes were played in Sidmouth territory. When a Sidmouth attempted clearance kick was charged down on their goal line, the ball bounced fortunately for a Sidmouth player to touch down.

The Chiefs took advantage of the let off to increase their lead with an excellent try. A good handling move delivered the ball to George Locke on the right wing. From 30 metres out, he broke two tackles on his way to the line. The try was unconverted.

The Chiefs took control in the closing stages as the visitors tired, but the bonus point try seemed to be elusive until Peli Vea intercepted a loose pass on the Bideford 22 to set up a try for Cameron Grainger. Dan Retter converted and added a penalty in injury time to give a deceptively comfortable final score-line.

On Saturday the Chiefs travel to Chard, where they have yet to win a league match.

On the Blackmore Field, the Quins aim to continue their winning run against Torrington 2nds. The kick-off is at 2.30pm.

At the same time, the England v South Africa match will be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse, kicking off at 3pm. Lunch is available before the game and non-members are welcome. For details, please see the club website at www.sidmouthrfc.co.uk

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