SIDMOUTH 1st XV 13pts v CLEVE 1st XV 17pts

The Chiefs produced their best away performance since winning at Wadebridge back in September. However, it was not quite good enough as the game slipped away from them in the closing minutes and they had to settle for a bonus point.

Cleve kicked off with the breeze in their favour and took the lead in the second minute thanks to a penalty kicked by the full back. With the Chiefs still shaking the journey out of their system, Cleve held the initiative during the first quarter. Several times they crossed the gain line but found the cover defence arriving quickly to snuff out the danger. Eventually the pressure told and a break through the centre took play deep into the Sidmouth 22. A series of pick-and -drives ended with the number seven crossing for an unconverted try.

The Chiefs responded immediately with their first attack of the game. Cleve failed to catch the restart kick and the Sidmouth forwards regained possession. The ball was moved to the backs where Barney Goss ghosted through a gap. When he was eventually stopped, the forwards took over. Bursts from Sam Richardson and Jack Pyne took play to the line where Richardson was driven over. The try was converted by Dan Retter.

Play became bogged down for the remainder of the half as both sides were guilty of too many basic errors. An exchange of penalties in first half injury time made the score 10–11 at the break.

With the breeze now in their favour, the Chiefs enjoyed territorial advantage in the third quarter. Ben Turner and Sam Richardson ensured a good supply of lineout ball and a platform for the forwards to set up driving play. However, too many mistakes prevented the continuity necessary to build up pressure. Their endeavour was eventually rewarded when they took the lead thanks to a long range Dan Retter penalty.

Neither try line had been seriously threatened for sometime when, midway through the half desperate defence was need at both ends in quick succession. A fine Sidmouth threequarter move sent Sam Meadham sprinting down the left and rounding his opposite number. The cover defence just cut him off a couple of metres short of the line. Almost immediately Sidmouth were desperately defending their own line, where Rhys Thomas brought off a fine smother tackle to prevent a touchdown. However, the Cleve pressure earned a penalty, which took them back into the lead.

Sidmouth were straight back on the attack and a Retter drop goal attempt drifted just wide of the upright. Twice more the Chiefs worked their way into the opposing half, but both times they allowed Cleve to escape. Deep into injury time the home side sealed their victory with a third successful penalty.