SIDMOUTH 1st XV 19pts v THORNBURY 1st XV 26pts

It is a common mantra of rugby coaches that success is built on doing the simple things well. This is a message the Chiefs need to take on board if they are to arrest their slide down the league table. The forwards more than held their own in a hard battle upfront, with skipper Sam Richardson leading the way with a man-of-the match performance in which he was well supported by flankers Phil Spenser and Brendan Spokes. However, once the ball got into the open too many moves broke down due to inaccurate passing.

Thornbury, making their first ever visit to the Blackmore, kicked off in perfect conditions. The opening exchanges gave every indication of a hard, competitive game with both teams intent on playing at pace. As the half progressed the visitors gained the upper hand as they capitalised on the Chiefs mistakes. They took the lead after ten minutes with a penalty. Two tries followed in quick succession. A burst up the middle by a forward opened up space on the left where quick handling put the winger in at the corner. Minutes later the hooker drove over following a tap penalty move near the line. The conversion opened up a 15 point lead, which was almost extended when the right winger chased up a diagonal kick. Fortunately he knocked on as he tried to gather the ball.

The Chiefs rallied in the closing stages of the half and should have scored from a rare fluent handling move, but the final pass as not given. The pressure was eventually rewarded with a Dan Retter penalty on the stroke of half time.

There was almost a spectacular start to the second half as Sam Richardson burst up field direct from the kick off before sending Chris Higgs sprinting up the left touchline. The wingman was brought down just short of the line. The forwards arrived in numbers to maintain the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts. However, the decision was reversed as someone spoke out of turn and Thornbury were able to clear the ball up field.

The Chiefs, now well and truly in the game, were soon back on the attack. They made further inroads into the deficit with two more Retter penalties. The fly half then intercepted on the ten metre line to run in under the posts. His conversion put his side one point up.

The lead was short-lived as the Thornbury kicker notched up his hat trick of penalties. And the game decider came when the Chiefs failed to gather a high kick. The visitors regained possession and capitalised by putting their left winger in for his second try. There was just enough time left for both kickers to exchange penalties. The final seven point margin gave the Chiefs the consolation of a bonus point.