Chiefs end season with defeat atClevedon

CLEVEDON 1st XV 36 v SIDMOUTH 1st XV 19

Clevedon dominated the middle section of this final league game of the season to build up a commanding lead.  The Chiefs fought back well as the second half progressed and, had they capitalised on early Clevedon errors, this might have been a much closer run game.

Thanks to a dominant scrum, the Chiefs had a decided edge in the set pieces, but a makeshift back row and back line were unable to fully capitalise on this advantage. In contrast, once Clevedon had settled from a disjointed a start, their slicker handling and better support play tore apart the Sidmouth defence.

Clevedon kicked off in perfect conditions but the early exchanges had a decided end-of-season air from two sides whose place in the league for next September was already assured. Both sides made basic errors and neither side was able to capitalise on the others shortcomings. The Chiefs came closest to opening the scoring when Dan Retter intercepted a loose pass and kicked ahead. The Clevedon full back just won the resulting footrace.

Eventually the Clevedon centres combined effectively to create a try for the full back, which was converted. The Chiefs levelled things up when James Salter broke from a scrum deep inside the home 22 and offloaded for Tom Whelan to dive over near the posts. He also added the conversion.

This was the signal for Clevedon to get into their stride and run in five unanswered tries either side of half time.  The outside centre rounded off a slick handing move following a quick tap penalty and a second row forward finished a counterattack initiated from a missed touch kick. The second was converted for ma halftime score of 7-19.

The Chiefs almost started the second half in spectacular style when Ben Salter chased up a Retter kick but the ball bounced away from him as both approached the try line. Instead Clevedon built up an unassailable lead with three tries in ten minutes. The ubiquitous full back was creator of the first and scorer of the second. The number 7 produced a powerful run to round off a fine handling move for the third.

Despite the disruption of two injuries, the Chiefs produced a spirited fight back as the game entered its final quarter. Good approach work by the forwards, with Alex Spurdle, Ben Halford and Dan Trim making hard yards, was rounded off when Tom Whelan dummied his way over from a ruck near the line. Two minutes later James Powell ran on to a Dan Retter diagonal kick to score in the left corner. Tom Whelan added the conversion.

Despite being reduced to 14 men by a further injury, the Chiefs held their own in the closing minutes. 

The result leaves the Chiefs finishing in a disappointing 10th place, with the joint highest number of bonus points, but contemplating how to achieve more consistency of performance.