SIDMOUTH 1st XV 29pts v CHOSEN HILL FP 1st XV 9pts

A strong performance by the pack paved the way for this bonus point winning start to the Chiefs South West One West league campaign. The side from Churchdown, near Gloucester, have been a tough nut to crack on their own ground. Among their promotion-chasing victims have been Brixham and Newton Abbot, so this result was no mean achievement.

The home side kicked off down the slope and took the lead in the third minute with a penalty. However the Chiefs forwards put down a message of intent with a strong drive at the first scrum, and followed it up with an unconverted try from a lineout catch-and-drive maul touched down by Rhys Thomas.

A couple of minutes later Sidmouth were reduced to14 men when Tristan Beavis was yellow carded for an illegal tackle. Before he could return, there was further disruption when Thomas had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Andrew Doidge, but his lineout throwing was badly missed.

Chosen Hill regained the lead with a second penalty as they used the slope to advantage, keeping the Chiefs pinned inside their own half. Once restored to a full 15 the Sidmouth backs produced a fine move to send Chris Higgs racing up the right wing to take play into the opposing 22, where Dan Retter restored the lead with a penalty.

The game became stop/start with a series of injuries, and the Chiefs lineout problems prevented them from maintaining attacking positions. The only other score in the half was a third penalty by the Chosen Hill centre to give his side a slender one point lead at the break.

Two minutes after the restart Barney Goss followed up a Tom Whelan kick to score a fine opportunist try as the bounce went in his favour. Dan Retter added the conversion. The score seemed to settle a few nerves and the Chiefs began to play some flowing rugby with backs and forwards combining well. They kicked a penalty to the corner but the attempted lineout maul was stopped just short of the line. However, when they were awarded another penalty near the line Dan Retter shaped to kick for the corner again, but instead took a quick tap and sent Dan Trim charging at the unsuspecting defence. He forced his way over the line and Retter converted to open up a comfortable lead.

The Chiefs dominated the final quarter, but could not break down the stubborn home defence. The forwards drove a maul from outside the 22 to within a few metres of the line but were penalised. The backs put together some promising moves but could not finish them off. Eventually the bonus point fourth try came in injury time as Chosen Hill tried to run the ball out of defence. Dan Retter intercepted to run in unopposed and touch down under the posts. His conversion was followed by the final whistle.