SIDMOUTH 1st XV 31pts v WELLINGTON 1st XV 14pts

There is work still to be done, but the management and coaches will be pleased with the preparation for the league campaign, which starts next week. Despite seven changes from the team which beat Okehampton, six of them in the forwards, this was a definite step up in performance. Combine this with the 2nd Team’s 45-10 win, and the fact that a number of contenders have yet to play, competition for places will be very keen.

Playing down the slope, with a stiff cross-field breeze, the Chiefs started strongly. Breaks by Sam Meadham and Tom Hodge gave encouragement, and the Wellington forwards were forced to defend two lineout catch-and drive moves in the opening minutes. Both made progress but were stopped a metre short of the line.

Against the run of play, Wellington took the lead on the quarter hour thanks to an interception and some smart support play. The Sidmouth backs had a three man overlap, but a loose pass was caught by an opposing centre and the counterattack was finished off by the left winger. The try was converted by the fly half.

The Chiefs struck back immediately when the forwards regained possession from the restart and drove on through a few phases before releasing the ball to the backs. Tom Hodge broke through the centre and found Tom Whelan in support to score under the posts. Dan Retter added the conversion to level the scores.

The Goss brothers combined to produce try number two. Scrum half Matt kicked into the box and brother Barney, on the right wing, followed up to charge down the full back’s attempted clearance kick. He gathered up the loose ball to touch down a try which Retter converted.

Just before halftime came the try of the match. The forwards won the ball from a Wellington lineout near their own line. With the opposing backs lying deep, Dan Retter got his backline moving. Sam Meadham made ground down the left wing before kicking ahead over the covering defenders. He re-gathered the ball before sending Barney Goss in for his second try. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the halftime score at 19-7.

Despite playing up the slope, the Chiefs built up a winning score with two tries in quick succession. Sam Meadham finished off a move down the blindside of a scrum inside the Wellngton 22. The wingman then followed up a kick out of defence to catch the full back in possession near halfway. The ball was turned over in the resulting ruck and a good move by the backs was finished off by Tom Whelan with a try he converted himself.

The Chiefs will be disappointed with the last quarter in which they lost concentration to some extent and conceded a soft try when a Wellington forward latched on to a loose ball to drive over following a lineout near the Sidmouth line. That said, they might have scored three times themselves with bit more luck and precision.