SIDMOUTH 1st XV 13pts v PAIGNTON 1st XV 27pts

For an hour it looked as if the Chiefs might pull off a shock win in this Devon Senior Cup game at Queens Park. However, with a number of players short of match fitness, they ran out of steam in the closing minutes, and Paignton scored two late tries to give a flattering margin of victory.

The Chiefs showed that there was not going to be any relaxation from the intensity of league rugby when the home full back was caught on possession just outside his own 22. The ball was turned over and determined driving by the forwards established a strong attacking position. The result was a simple try on his debut by Ben Turner when he pounced on a loose ball following a lineout near the Paignton line. Turner is a formed Sidmouth Colt who, until recently, has been playing senior rugby at Withycombe.

The Chiefs had their tails up and were soon back on the attack until two penalties in quick succession allowed Paignton to, first, relieve the pressure, then set up an attacking position. Employing players running from deep, they made dents in the Sidmouth defence. This tested the cover, but did not breach it until midway through the half. A well-judged kick forced the Chiefs to concede a five metre scrum. They used this to build up pressure on the line until the number seven forced his way over from close range to level the scores.

On the half hour, with the sides evenly matched, Paignton had two players yellow carded in quick succession. A forward for throwing a punch, and the left winger for a deliberate knock on when Sidmouth had an overlap inside the opposing 22. The Chiefs used the two man advantage to score a second try. Strong driving by the forwards, with Sam Richardson, Ollie Pyne and Callum Hill to the fore, took play deep into the 22 where a half break in the centre by Barney Goss created an opening for Tom Whelan to score a second unconverted try.

Paignton reduced the lead to just two points with a penalty in first half injury time.

The Chiefs started the second half strongly, with the forwards using a superior scrum as a platform to attack from the base. James Leat came close after Tom Whelan had run back a loose kick with interest, before Whelan increased the lead with a penalty.

The Chiefs continued to dominate proceedings during the third quarter but could not add to their score. Eventually Paignton broke out with a fine handling move, at the end of which Barney Goss was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle. Paignton kicked to the corner for a lineout from which they scored a try with a catch-and-drive play. The conversion from the touchline gave them the lead for the first time.

With the Chiefs tiring, Paignton began to get the upper hand. They increased their lead when they won a scrum against the head in front of the Sidmouth posts and the number eight drove over. The Chiefs, now needing eight points, threw everything into attack as the match went into injury time. Unfortunately a dropped pass inside the Paignton half was hacked on up field and the right winger won the race for the touchdown. Following the conversion there was just enough time for the restart kick.

The Dukes man of the match was Liam O’Connor.