CHIEFS IN LAST MINUTE WIN AGAINST TORQUAY

SIDMOUTH 1st XV  16  v  TORQUAY ATHLETIC 1st XV  15

 

The Chiefs scored the only try of the game in the fourth minute of injury time to set up victory in this tense, mid-table encounter. Heavy rain in the first half meant that open, flowing rugby would be at a premium. The close nature of the games also stiffled ambition as gaining and holding on to territory was the priority.

 

Improvements in defence and their kicking game were once again evident and important factors in the win, but the Chiefs will be examining the decision-making around the lineout, particularly in the conditions. Scrum half Cameron Grainger deserves praise for tiding up the mess on too many occasions.

 

The Chiefs were awarded a penalty in the first minute, but Tom Whelan’s long range effort rebounded from an upright. After ten minutes of sparing, the Torquay fly half kicked his side into the lead from a much easier range and angle.

 

As the rain came down, the visitors adapted to conditions more readily and benefitted from the Chiefs errors resulting from over-ambition in their own half. Their reward was a second penalty kicked by the fly half.

 

The Chiefs soon adopted a more pragmatic approach, with Dan Retter and Tom Whelan kicking effectively for position to swing the balance of play in their favour. The forwards played an effective pick-and-drive game with Sam Richardson, Josh Bess, Nick Mills and Gavin Pearson leading the way. The pressure was rewarded with two penalties from Tom Whelan to level the score at halftime, but would they regret the one in front of the posts, which they opted to run without success?

 

At the opening of the second half, it was the visitors turn to see a penalty attempt rebound on the wrong side of the post. However, they enjoyed a long period of territorial advantage, thanks in no small measure to the Chiefs propensity for losing ground on their own lineout ball. A third penalty gave Torquay the lead going in to the final quarter.

 

With the rain stopped, the Chiefs backs began to show their paces. A good handling move gave Chris Higgs a run  up the left wing, Rory O’Brien produced a strong run out of defence and  a Harry Chesterton break had the Torquay defence scrambling. The ambition was rewarded with a Tom Whelan penalty to level the scores.

 

Torquay regained the lead with a fourth penalty going into the final ten minutes and, when the fly half kicked a drop goal as the game moved into injury time, the result seemed to be settled. However, following the restart kick, Torquay were penalised. Tom Whelan’s precision punt gave his side a lineout seven metres from the goal line. Josh Bess made the catch, the pack gathered behind him and drove the maul over for Haydon Down to get the touch down. Tom Whelan’s conversion from wide out bisected the posts and the final whistle was blown to the cheers of the Sidmouth supporters.