Chiefs rise from the dead to earn draw at St Ives

ST IVES 1st XV  39  v  SIDMOUTH 1st XV  39 

Despite the scoreline and twelve tries, this was not a thriller. In fact it was more a resurrection to rival Lazarus. The result seemed a foregone conclusion from the fourth minute, when St Ives had scored two tries courtesy of two schoolboy errors and some inept defending, until the fourth minute of injury time. When Dwight Pansegrouw, the Chiefs influential flanker, departed after just five minutes with an ankle injury, the writing really was on the wall.

St Ives kicked off in perfect conditions. Sidmouth dropped the ball. St Ives were awarded a penalty and kicked for the corner. They won the lineout and drove over the line for the opening try, which was converted. Two minutes later a loose Sidmouth kick enabled St Ives to launch an attack which was stopped just short of the line by an excellent Dan Rugg tackle. However, St Ives were awarded a five metre scrum and set up a well-worked try by the number eight, which was also converted.

Two long range Dan Retter penalties got his side into the game, but belied the fact that his side were living off scraps against a dominant home pack and a fly half who knew how to keep them going forward.

The Chiefs sharpened up their game with some good defensive work and refusing to engage against the lineout catch and drive, leaving the referee no option but to award a scrum for accidental offside. Despite the increased resistance, St Ives added two more tries. The number six drove over from close range after a long period of pressure on the Sidmouth line and the left winger went over in the corner following a five metre scrum. Neither was converted.

In the closing minutes of the half, the Chiefs paid a rare visit to the opposing half, where the were awarded a penalty. A quick tap sent Tom Irish, Sidmouth’s most effective forward with the ball in hand, on a run to the 22. When the ball was recycled, Christian Goddard dummied his way through a gap and clear to the line. Dan Retter added the conversion to make the halftime score 13-24.

St Ives extended their lead early in the second half with another lineout catch-and-drive play.

This was followed by the Chiefs best period of the game before the dramatic finale. They were camped in the home 22 for several minutes, during which two St Ives players were yellow carded for technical offences. But, despite the numerical advantage, they were unable to add to their score. Instead, they lost two more important forwards to injury as Will Siddle and Hayden Watene  departed to the bench.

Rabbie Hansford, who had replaced Dwight Pansegrouw, moved to number eight, where he did not look out of place. The positions at flanker were filled by Josh Reed and Christian Goddard, who also performed well out of position. Meanwhile, Dan Powell moved to his prefered position of scrum half, and Rory O’Brien went to full back, which gave him more freedom to influence the game.

With ten minutes to go, St Ives won a scrum against the head near the Sidmouth line and the number eight drove over to extend the lead to 21 points.

With six minutes of normal time left, the Chiefs scored a second try in fine style, when Dan Retter made a break from his own 22 and sent Tom Seward up to halfway. He timed his pass perfectly to Rory O’Brien, who stepped inside the covering players and outpaced them to touch down under the posts. Dan Retter converted.

Within two minutes the St Ives number six profited from some weak tackling to score a try, which should have put the result beyond any doubt.

The Chiefs had other ideas and the home side were tiring. They set up an attacking position from the restart kick. When St Ives were penalised, Dan Powell took a quick tap and linked with his fly half. Tom Seward came on the scissors and burst through for a converted try.

With the game now in injury time, the Chiefs targeted a bonus point try and duly got it. Rory O’Brien made a break out of his own 22 and sent Charlie Cotton sprinting down the right wing. He outpaced the tiring cover to put his side within seven points and in sight of two unlikely bonus points.

This was not enough and from the restart kick, well caught under pressure by James Salter, Dan Rugg went on a 40 metres run to the 22, where he found Dan Powell  support. As he looked certain to score, he was felled by a high tackle. The referee headed straight for the posts to award a penalty try. Dan Retter’s conversion levelled the scores and was followed by the final whistle.