CHIEF MAKE WINNING START TO NEW YEAR

SIDMOUTH 1st XV  39  v  WADEBRIDGE CAMELS 1st XV  12

 

The Chiefs started 2017 in style, producing their best performance of the season to reverse a heavy defeat at Molesworth Field in September and move into the top half of the league.

 

Both teams made light of a damp surface to produce an open, entertaining game. The final scoreline did not reflect the balance of play, with Wadebridge having their fair share of territory but coming up against a determined and well-organised Sidmouth defence allied to some clinical finishing.

 

The Sidmouth line up inclued a rare father and son combination in the front row, with veteran Mark Unsworth proping up his son Asa, who had a fine debut at hooker. They were at the heart of a Sidmouth pack, which provided a good supply of possession.

 

The Chiefs got off to a flying start with two scores inside the opening four minutes. Tom Whelan rewarded early pressure with a penalty kicked from wide out on the left. He followed up with a high box kick following the restart kick, which was followed up by Cameron Grainger. The ball fell kindly for him and he ran in unopposed from 30 metres out. The try was unconverted.

 

Wadebridge recovered from the early shock to apply some pressure without seriously troubling the home defence. The Chiefs broke out with a fine handling move to send Rory O’Brien sprinting down the left wing. He was eventually tackled into touch five metres short of the line.

 

The Chiefs maintained the attacking position and, when they won a lineout just outside the 22, a miss move found Gavin Pearson on space. He and James Powell made ground before the latter sent Sam Meadham sprinting in at the corner. Tom Whelan added the conversion.

 

A diagonal kick by Tom Whelan found James Powell in space on the right but a fine cover tackle denied him a score. However, a third try soon followed, when Josh Bess broke on the blindside of a scrum just inside his own half to set up a handling move finished off in the left corner by Dan Retter. Tom Whelan converted.

 

Wadebridge finished the half strongly. A forward pass denied them a try following a fine handling move before the pressure was eventually rewarded with an opportunist try by the outside centre following a charged down kick. The same player kicked the conversion to make the halftime score 22-7.

 

The Chiefs needed a positive start to the second half to ward off any possible Wadebridge comeback, and they delivered. They regained possession from the kick off and the forwards advanced to ball through several phases to stretch the defence before releasing it for Tom Whelan to dummy his way through a gap. He added the conversion to restore a 22 point gap. Minutes later he increased the margin with a penalty.

 

Wadebridge took charge through the middle part of the half. The Chiefs did well to keep their line intact against two attempted lineout catch-and-drive plays and a five metre scrum.

 

When the Chiefs eventually broke out, they did so in  style. Tom Whelan found room on the blindside of a ruck and Cameron Grainger in support. The scrum half kicked ahead and his hard chase forced a rushed clearance kick, which went straight to Rory O’Brien. His run up the left started a move finished off by Tom Seward for Tom Whelan to convert.

 

Wadebridge perserverance brought a second try, when they drove over from a lineout near the line before the Chiefs played out the closing minutes safely.