SIDMOUTH 1st XV  25  v  CHARD 1st XV  24


Sidmouth Chiefs chalked up their second win of the season in a hard-fought and tense cross-border derby against mid-table Chard.


A few moments of brilliance backed up by a gutsy, backs-to-the-wall performance by an out-gunned pack were just enough to earn a valuable four points in the battle to move away from the bottom of the table.


The Chiefs followed up their kick off aggressively to make a good start as they pinned Chard inside their own 22 for the opening minutes. A missed touch kick gave a counterattacking opportunity and Sione Livai made a strong burst from the base of a ruck before the ball was moved to the backs. Quick handling provided space for Ethan Mead on the left wing, who just made the line despite the attention of two defenders. Dan Retter added the conversion from the touchline.


Chard hit back almost immediately, when their scrum half broke from the base of a scrum on the Sidmouth 22 and found no defenders in front of him. He touched down between the posts but the simple conversion was missed, which would prove crucial.


Dan Retter kicked a long-range penalty before the Chard pack began to exert their superiority in the set pieces. A penalty kicked into the Sidmouth 22 was followed by a lineout catch-and-drive play. The maul reached the try-line but the ball was held up resulting in a five metre scrum. Will Bright was yellow carded as he strayed offside. Chard opted for another scrum and the referee awarded a penalty try as he judged a pushover attempt was prevented illegally. The seven points put the visitors in the lead.


Despite being a man short, the Chiefs enjoyed their most productive period of the game as Dan Retter kicked a second penalty and quick-thinking James Salter rewarded pressure on the Chard line when he dived over following a quick tap penalty. The try was unconverted.


Luke Wells-Burr and Ethan Mead combined in a move up the left touch-line but the cover defence eventually snuffed it out before Chard took control at the end of the half. Constant pressure on the Sidmouth line eventually brought a try in injury time by the outside centre as the Chiefs ran out of defenders. The try was converted to give Chard a one-point halftime lead.


Sidmouth had the better of the third quarter but could not add to their score. When Chard paid their first visit to the home 22 midway through the half, they immediately increased their lead. From a lineout 10 metres from the line, they drove a maul all the way for the right winger to join in and get the touch down. The try was unconverted.


Then came the moment of magic, which can win a game. Replacement winger Zac Bess field a kick on the halfway line and set off on a looping run just out of reach of defenders and all the way to the line. Dan Retter’s conversion put his side in front once again.


Chard worked their way back into the Sidmouth 22, where Tom Seward was sent to the sin bin for an illegal tackle. Despite being a man short, the Chiefs withstood a long siege on their line, including two attempted pushovers from five metre scrums.


When the Chard pack set up a driving maul from a lineout, it was disrupted by the Sidmouth forwards and Matt Farrington stole the ball enabling Dan Retter to clear it up field. The Chiefs played out the final minutes in the Chard half to the delight of a large crowd of supporters.