SIDMOUTH 1st XV 7pts v BRIXHAM 1st XV 79pts

The Chiefs met a “perfect storm” of adversity on their trip to Astley Park, not least of which was a Brixham side on top of the league and on top form. Even to have denied the Fishermen a bonus point would have been a formidable task for a Sidmouth side at full strength.

As it was, the unavailability of a number of key players resulted in some players playing out of position. And matters were further disrupted when hooker Alex Spurdle was caught in a traffic jam on the M5 and unable to make the game. This left the Chiefs without a front row replacement so that, when Matt Farrington had to leave the field with a head injury, they were reduced to 14 men for the last 35 minutes. Also the game continued with uncontested scrums, the one area of the game where the Chiefs were causing the home side considerable inconvenience.

The defensive shortcomings of the Sidmouth back line, without a specialist full back or centres, were exposed on Brixham’s first attack in the fifth minute. They easily worked an overlap for the left winger for a converted try. Ten minutes later, the same player had completed his hat trick in similar fashion.

Despite sterner resistance, three more tries followed before halftime. Two were scored by forwards from close range and they were separated by a fine individual effort by the right winger, comfortably the most dangerous of Brixham’s talented backs. Two were converted to make the halftime score 0-36.

The Chiefs brightest moment came immediately after the restart kick. Sam Richardson pounced on a loose ball near his own 22 and kicked it long up field. With several Sidmouth players in pursuit, a rushed clearance kick went straight to one of them and a few passes later Phil Spencer dived over wide out on the right. Tom Whelan added the conversion.

Any hopes of a comeback were swiftly set aside, when the Brixham right winger completed his hat trick with tries in quick succession and, between them, the Chiefs were reduced to 14 men.

To their credit, the Chiefs put up a strong rearguard action to the end, and Brixham had to work hard for the remaining five tries, all scored from close range playing down the slope.

The Duke’s man of the match was Ben Turner, who is proving to be a valuable addition to the squad following his return to the Club.