Honours even at Coney Hill

CONEY HILL 1st XV 20pts v SIDMOUTH 1st XV 20pts

 

The Chiefs travelled to Gloucester for this replay of a game abandoned in December with a much-changed squad, which included eight teenagers. They came away with their heads held high and an honourable draw thanks to a wholehearted effort and two contrasting tries of the highest order.

On a rare dry day, and on a firm surface, both teams contributed to an exciting and entertaining game, which belied their lowly league positions. After three weeks of inaction, the Chiefs took time to shake off the rust and Coney Hill dominated much of the opening half hour. They monopolised possession and scored two well-constructed tries.

In the ninth minute, following a scrum on the Sidmouth 22, they progressed the ball through several phases until they had created an overlap on the left for the winger to sprint over in the corner. The full back added the conversion. As the half hour approached, the lively full back broke from his own half before kicking ahead. The left winger won the chase for his second try. The coinversion attempt was unsuccessful.

During this time, the Chiefs only positive contribution was a break by Harry Chesterton, which took them into the opposing 22, but they could not sustain the pressure.

Eventually they created an attacking position with a good backs move. This was followed by a driving maul from a lineout, which the Coney Hill pack stopped illegally. Dan Retter kicked the resulting penalty.

In the last minute of the half came the moment of great opportunism and skill, which changed the momentum of the game. The Sidmouth backs and forwards combined well to take play to the Coney Hill 22, where they were awarded another penalty. Dan Retter's kick was drifting wide of the posts and hanging up in the wind. Dan Colson followed up fast to leap above two waiting defenders and make a fine catch before touching down. Dan Retter's conversion made the halftime score 10-12.

An early penalty by the Coney Hill full back did not dampen the Sidmouth fire as they pressured the home side into errors, and began to dominate the contact area, where Gavin Pearson, Josh Bess and Rhys Thomas were outstanding. When Coney Hill dropped the ball on halfway, it was hacked on and Charlie Cotton chased to force the concession of a five metre scrum. Josh Bess broke on the blindside to link with Christian Goddard, whose well-timed pass sent Charlie Cotton over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Straight from the restart kick the Chiefs drove forward to set up a ruck. Tim Phillips found space on the blindside to break into Coney Hill territory before passing to Charlie Cotton. The wingman had much to do, but he left two men in his wake before just making the line as the covering players got to him.

Coney Hill's response was determined, when two penalties awarded in quick succession enabled them to kick for a lineout deep inside the Sidmouth 22. The Chiefs did well to hold out against the resulting catch-and-drive play, but were reduced to 14 men when Rhys Thomas was yellow carded for handling in a ruck. Despite the disadavntage, they held out against a five metre scrum and a long period of pressure on their line, before the scrum half sniped over following a quick tap penalty. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score remained level for the remaining few minutes of the game.