Sidmouth 1st v Cleve 1st

SIDMOUTH 1st XV  22pts  v  CLEVE 1st XV  29pts

Mistakes one minutes either side of half time proved costly in a closely fought contest between two well-matched teams. However, the result leaves the Chiefs still needing one more point from their last two games to remove any mathematical possibility of relegation.

Both sides showed a good deal of attacking ambition, but will be disappointed by the high error count. The scoring for both sides owed more to mistakes and opportunism than creativity. The one try of real quality, scored by the Chiefs late in the game, was deserving of the bonus point it earned them.

Play in the first quarter resembled the trench warfare of the First World War. It was confined mainly around the halfway line with small gains in territory by one side being quickly regained by the other.

The game eventually came to life in the twentieth minute when a Cleve knock on found its way straight into the hands of Tom Whelan, who sprinted in unopposed for an unconverted try.

Five minutes later Cleve had taken the lead thanks to a penalty and drop goal by the inside centre. Both resulted from attacking positions gained following long range counterattacks through some fragile Sidmouth defence.

The Chiefs regained the lead on the half hour when a quick tap penalty gave Harry Chesterton the opportunity to step and stretch his way to the line past the close attention of defenders. Tom Whelan added the conversion. Minutes later a Jack Pyne break set up a superb handling move, but a foot in touch a few metres short prevented a score. 

At the other end, Cleve almost profited when they set up an attack after the Chiefs had lost control of the ball in a scrum. They were denied by a last ditch cover tackle by Harry Chesterton. However, they maintained the attacking position for the number 12 to kick a second drop goal. Tom Whelan restored the six point advantage with a penalty but, from the restart kick, a loose pass found its way into the hands of the Cleve openside, who ran in unopposed. The conversion gave them a 16-15 lead at the break.

The Cleve forwards gathered in the kick to open the second half. The ball was transferred to the fly half, who launched a high kick. The Chiefs failed to make the catch and the ball bounced into the hands of an advancing player. The fly half was on hand to apply the finishing touch. The try was converted to open up an eight point lead.

The next half hour resembled the first quarter with neither side posing a serious threat to the other’s try line. Two penalties extended the visitors lead before the Chiefs raised hope of a dramatic comeback with the try of the game. Tom Seward field a kick inside his own half to set up a move going left. James Powell was up in the line to make the initial break before James Perry produced a run of pace and power to score in the corner. Tom Whelan converted from the touchline to put his side within seven points. Cleve played out time comfortably for a win which takes them clear of any threat of relegation. The Chiefs still need one more point, but two wins could see them finish in the top half such is the competitive nature of this league.