Chiefs show promise despite defeat at Cullompton

CULLOMPTON 22pts  v  SIDMOUTH 5pts 

Sidmouth took a squad of 27 to Stafford Park for a pre-season friendly and produced a performance which will have pleased new head coach Mark Beavis. The scoreline does not reflect their contribution to the game, but they lacked the clinical finishing shown by Cullompton as they capitalised on Sidmouth errors.

Sidmouth dominated territory in the first quarter with a more mobile pack retaining possession well through the phases and pressuring the home side into conceding penalties. The scrum was under some pressure, but Gavin Pearson controlled things well at number 8, while Jack Sowden and James Salter produced good lineout ball.  New flanker Will Siddle was particularly prominent and captain Dan Retter made some useful breaks. However, the backline lacked cohesion at this stage.

The closest they came to scoring came from a lineout catch-and-drive. The driving maul was stopped just short of the line, where Siddle peeled off but was held up. Although Cullompton were penalised, Sidmouth could not capitalise on the position.

A dropped ball inside the Cullompton half was snapped up by the home number 8, who burst upfield to start a move, which took play deep into the Sidmouth 22 for the first time. They opened the scoring with when a forward peeled from a maul following a lineout near the line and drove over on the blind side.

A few minutes later, Sidmouth failed to deal with a high kick and the ball bounced into the arms of the Cullompton right winger, who ran in unopposed for a try, which was converted by the fly half.

Gaining in confidence, Cullompton added a third try just before half time with a fine handling move involving backs and forwards. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the score at 0-17 at the break.

From the restart, Sidmouth regained the initiative to keep Cullompton pinned inside their own half. The backs began to click, with former Colts Jay Wright, George Locke and Charlie Cotton combining well on a number of occasions. New full back Hugo Marino also showed some elusive running. Despite the pressure, the Cullompton defence proved to be resilient, but was eventually breached with ten minutes to go when Jevon Astley-Jones finished off a splendid handling move.

Cullompton scored a late try as they capitalised on a poor clearance kick and their forwards drove to the line, where the number 4 forced his way over.