Chiefs fight back for bonus point against Tiverton

SIDMOUTH 1st XV 18pts  v  TIVERTON 1st XV 23pts 

The Chiefs found themselves 15 points down in as many minutes against East Devon rivals Tiverton, but the young side will have gained some confidence from a spirited fight back, which earned them a bonus point.

Despite the counter-attraction of Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers on offer at Sandy Park, a good crowd turned out at the Blackmore Field in pleasant autumn weather. They were rewarded with a spirited and hard-fought encounter, albeit with more mistakes than either side will be happy with in perfect conditions.

Tiverton dominated in the early stages and looked set for a comfortable win. They opened the scoring after just three minutes, when the number 8 broke on the blind-side of a 5 metre scrum to put his right winger over in the corner, while the Sidmouth defenders were guilty of ball watching. Minutes later, the influential number 8 scored when he touched down from a lineout catch-and-drive play. The full back kicked the conversion, to which he added a penalty on the quarter hour mark.

The Chiefs launched their first attack when Stuart Bickerstaff burst clear from the base of a ruck just inside the opposing half. His powerful run was eventually stopped a few metres short of the line, but the visitors were penalised at the resulting ruck and Cameron Grainger kicked the goal to open the scoring for his side.

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This provided the spark needed to turn the match into a serious competition. While Tiverton had the edge in the set pieces, Sidmouth looked more dangerous with the ball in hand. Their enterprise was eventually rewarded with an excellent try. When James Salter won quick ball at a lineout inside his own half, Tom Seward ran a good line to cut through the centre and burst into the Tiverton half. George Locke’s decoy inside run caused hesitation in the defence before Seward’s well-timed pass sent Joe Briggs sprinting over in the corner. The try was unconverted, but Cameron Grainger kicked a late penalty to close the gap to 11-15 at halftime.

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The Chiefs started the second half brightly, but a rising penalty count returned the initiative to the visitors. The Chiefs withstood a long period of pressure with some outstanding defensive work. Eventually Tiverton had to be content with a penalty kicked by the full back.

With ten minutes to go Tiverton extended their lead, and ensured the victory, with another lineout catch-and drive play.

From the resulting restart kick, the Chiefs regained possession and the forwards drove through a number of phases before releasing the ball into the open. Jevon Astley-Jones joined the line and put in a well-judged grubber kick. Tom Seward followed up to scoop up the ball and race in under the posts. Cameron Grainger added the conversion to ensure his side a losing bonus point.

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Tiverton played out the remaining few minutes safely in the Sidmouth half.

Dukes man-of-the-match - Will Siddle