Chiefs lose at Bideford

BIDEFORD 1st XV  35pts  v  SIDMOUTH 1st XV  15pts 

The Chiefs problems continue, but this game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Unfortunately a couple of lapses of concentration, and failure to turn pressure into points during a dominant period in the second half, were to prove costly.

A significant improvement in the set pieces gave a better supply of possession. The lineouts were rock solid and, though they were under some pressure in the scrums, they rarely buckled and the ball was secured. The introduction of Neil Barratt at hooker was instrumental in both areas. Meanwhile, Rhys Thomas was outstanding in the loose and the first appearance of the season by Jack Pyne gave some vital go-forward.

One aspect which urgently needs addressing is the time taken to get into the game. For the first half hour the Chiefs barely got out of their own half. It took some outstanding defensive work to keep them within seven points, a converted try by the right winger. Both James Powell and Dan Colson brought off vital try-saving tackles, while the forwards resisted two lineout mauls and a pushover scrum attempt.

On their first visit to the Bideford 22, powerful runs by Jack Pyne and Tristan Beavis forced a penalty, which was turned into three points by Dan Retter. In the final minute of the half strong runs from Jack Pyne and Rhys Thomas scattered the defence and. when the ball was transferred to the backs, slick handling sent Giles Dixon over in the right corner.

There was just time for the restart kick, which the Chiefs failed to gather. Bideford immediately regained possession and a quick tap penalty set up a try for one of the forwards. The conversion left the Chiefs trailing 8-14 at the break rather than with a one point advantage.

Ten minutes into the second half Bideford extended their lead with a fine try. A good move by the backs gave their speedy winger some space. He was being cut off by the cover when he chipped ahead and re-gathered on the full before sprinting clear for a converted try.

Straight from the restart kick Bideford exploited an unmarked blindside to set up a move finished off by the full back to secure a bonus point. The conversion left the Chiefs a mountain to climb.

Sidmouth dominated the next 20 minutes. They soon reduced the arrears when Andrew Doidge caught the scrum half at the base of s ruck to turn over the ball. Dan Retter then dummied his way over near the posts and added the conversion. It seemed that another try would follow at the end of a superb handling move down the left, but James Powell was tackled into touch just a metre short of the line. However, the Chiefs laid siege to the line with Jack Pyne, Rhys Thomas and Harry Chesterton all being held up on or just short of the line.

When Bideford eventually broke out, the right winger completed his hat trick with a fine solo run from halfway. The conversion completed the scoring.

The Dukes man-of-the-match was Harry Chesterton for an all-round performance, which saw him back to his best form after missing a season due to injury.