Sid 2nds Heads Held High

Sidmouth 2nd  14 Exmouth 2nd  63

Heads Held High

The score on the board doesn’t matter, the tired aching bodies don’t matter, there’s 3 minutes until the final whistle and the Quins are under their own posts having just conceded another try. Stuart Bickerstaff, injured and unable to play, but still leading by example exhorts the players for one final effort “it’s for your pride, our pride and for the pride of Sidmouth Rugby” he says. The players, some struggling for breath and all feeling the effect of the previous 77 minutes, plan their move – a high re-start from Adam Squance, aggressively followed through by the back row, several picks and go from the forwards and then battle across the line. To score a try from the position they found themselves in at this stage of the game would require teamwork, courage and determination from all.

The game restarts with Squance’s kick, high and hanging, Damon Morris and Xenon Kearns both new to a Quins shirt pursue the catcher, the ever present Tom Reed bundles him to the floor, the ball is ripped from him and Sidmouth start the pick and go routine. It begins with Chris Pike in his first game of the season making a few hard fought yards, then Anthony Martin playing this match out of position in the back rowmaking a few more before releasing it to Mark Osborne who, injured and hurting, battles onwards. The ball comes out andDamon Morris gets it away to Captain Ben Pratt who makes his own hard yards before off-loading to the power running of Giles Dixon, another ruck and still the ball is with Sidmouth. Now it’s the forwards again, Roger Goulding forces his way forward with Rob Cruze at his side, the ball makes its way into the hands of Moray Boscence another player Sidmouth are glad to see back in the colours, who maintains the forward momentum. Now again it’s out for the backs, Sam Smith in only his second appearance for the Quins and again out of position straightens and passes onto Bobby Taylor-Crofts who hasn’t played in four years and yet makes his own yards. Sidmouth now with their tails up maintain the pressure, just a few yards to go, Josh Ledger comes forward to add some width and speed and again there’s support from Dixon. A penalty is given to Sidmouth and a quick tap from DamonMorris gets the drive forward underway again into the eager hands of Martin and then Goulding and with a final flurry the line is in sight and Ben Pratt goes over to score the team try of the season. Squance stepped forward and deftly stroked the ball between the uprights – the plan had been executed!

The reaction from players and coaches alike was one of joy, despite the lack of players Sidmouth could field, despite the huge on and off the field resources of Exmouth, this group of players had, through determination and hard, hard work achieved what they had set out to 3 minutes earlier.

The Quins first try was again a team effort with the backs getting the ball to within 10 metres of the try line, the forwards then took over with Anthony Martin finally driving over close to the posts, Adam Squance adding the extras.  

As a tough season for all Sidmouth teams moves towards its conclusion, the Club can rightly be proud of the team ethic and commitment of those players who week in and week out have faced much bigger, more experienced and better resourced opposition. The coaching teams equally feel the pressures of matches such as Saturdays but all can take comfort from the words of Sidmouth’s Chairman, Mark Seward on Saturday night “this is hard to take for all of us but I am hugely proud that no Sidmouth team gives up or takes a step backwards. We will learn and improve through theseexperiences and be a better Club in time because our courage and commitment is strong, and that will see us through”. Roll on next Saturday!!

John Hamill  

What a difference a week makes!

Sidmouth 2nd 45  Torquay 2nd 10

What a difference a week makes! On Saturday 8th March Sidmouth Quins made the journey to Crediton and encountered a big experienced pack which deprived Sidmouth of any possession and resulted in a heavy loss for the travelling side. On Saturday 15th March the Quins hosted Torquay at Sidford and came up against another big experienced pack but this time Sidmouth dominated proceedings and ran out winners by 45 – 10. On both occasions support from Colts players made the game possiblebut even so against Torquay Sidmouth could only raise 14 players and to their credit, Torquay matched numbers. Sidmouth fielded a strong front row with the welcome return of Mark Unsworth and Mark Osborne alongside Tom Reed, Rob Cruze and Roger Goulding provided stability in the second row and Alex Graves-Morris and Chris Otway on the flanks. To the surprise of the onlookers, Sidmouth held the first scrum and in subsequent ones managed to push the heavier Torquay pack off the ball which, together with quick hooking from Reed, meant scrum time was not a disaster for the home side. The threequarters were sharp and threatening both in attack and defence with regulars  Ben Pratt, Adam Squance and Giles Dixon all playing their best game of the season. Alongside them were Johnny Hamill, back from university for the weekend, Adam Howe and Scott Davies playing their first games in a few weeks, and Colt Sam Smith who deservedly received the coveted pink MOTM T-shirt!

 Sidmouth opened the scoring after 10 minutes with the first of seven tries, mainly scored by the backs using their speed and width to run round, and sometimes through, the Torquay defences. Intelligent use of overlaps and some scintillating interplay made for some very well taken tries and with Adam Squance on form with his boot meant the Sidmouth score of 45 was well deserved. With Sidmouth playing down the field from the kick-off, the half time score of 21 – 0 to Sidmouth was a useful cushion to withstand the expected second half onslaught. Sidmouth, however, put another 7 points on the board before Torquay opened their account with a score in the corner after a period of sustained pressure on the home side’s line. A second try came soon after when the ball squirted out from a scrum, again near Sidmouth’s line, and Torquay managed to get to it first. Sidmouth, to their credit, stiffened their resolve and managed three more tries before the final whistle. With Sam Smith featuring in the build up to most tries he can consider himself unlucky not to have featured on the score sheet himself. Eventually tries from Ben Pratt (2) one a 80 metre solo dash, Adam Howe, Giles Dixon, Adam Squance, Scott Davies and, after lovely support play, by Tom Reed were more than enough to give Sidmouth a convincing win and three points from their afternoon’s work.

Next week the Quins have a stern test with Exmouth at The Blackmore, the task this week is to get a full complement of players to take them on.

By John Hamill

Sid 2nds have two tries held up!

Sidmouth 2nd 8 Ivybridge 2nd 27

With the score at 8 – 12 and Sidmouth making all the play it seemed reasonable to be optimistic about another successful outcome for Sidmouth Quins on Saturday at The Blackmore.  However two Sidmouth tries adjudged to be held up and two gifted tries to Ivybridge made the final score extremely disappointing for the home side. With several of the second team regulars making the trip to Coney Hill with the Chiefs, there was a bare 15 available to start and without enough experienced props it was uncontested scrums throughout. The game plan should have been simple – don’t try and mix it up with Ivybridge’s  bigger and probably better drilled forwards  but get possession to the backs to play open rugby. Sidmouth’s  threequarter line looked an exciting prospect with Ben Dobson back from injury at fullback, Jamie Balloch and Adam Squance on the wings, Dom Hawke and Giles Dixon at centre and Ben Pratt playing fly half. There was a vacancy at scrum half until Alex Dunn, back home from University, put himself forward and played so well in his new found position that he earned himself one of the coveted Pink T-shirts!

In the early exchanges Sidmouth appeared rusty which in light of the 3 week gap since they last played was understandable, however despite considerable pressure the 15 minute mark came up with no score either way and a couple of the Sidmouth stalwart’s regretting the 4.30 am free bar of the night before.

Sidmouth found it difficult to move the game away from Ivybridge’s forwards and put in some extremely robust defence to keep the visitors at bay. The front five on “light” duties were able to cover the ground, not only making their hits but also making some yards when the opportunity presented itself. Captain Stuart Bickerstaff was as industrious as always with backrow colleagues Josh Reed and Matin Osbourne in supportWith no recognised lineout specialist, it functioned reasonably well, Chris Otway winning virtually all his own ball.

On reflection Sidmouth created enough opportunities in the first half to put the game to bed, Ben Dobson, Dom Hawke and Jamie Balloch all making long runs but being snuffed outshort of the try line.

Half time 0 - 12    

Playing up the slope, the Quins start brightly forcing a penalty which Adam Squance converted, he was then involved with the next score, after making good yards, drawing two defenders his pop pass was gathered by Ben Pratt who scampered in from 30 metres for an unconverted try. Thecomeback looked good until the visitors got the try that effectively killed off the game.

The Quins are off to Tiverton this Saturday for a friendly fixture

 

 

Tiverton 2nd 44 Sidmouth 2nd 20

It takes two teams to make a game possible, so with Sidmouth Quins arriving 3 players light Tiverton kindly made up the shortfall to allow a competitive friendly fixture to go ahead, so a big thanks to them. Whilst still getting organised the Quins went 2 tries down, but on 15 minutes, hands in the ruck, saw Adam Squance put 3 points on the board.

Mid half the loss of flanker Ryan Davies to injury allowed the home side to use the extra forward to good advantage keeping the Quins penned in their own half, though stout defence especially from centres Giles Dixon, Ben Pratt and flanker Martin Osborne kept Tiverton restricted to 3 tries till half time.

 

On a heavy pitch the second half was an even affair, Mark Unsworth, Tony Martin and Tom Reed were tireless in the loose, Chris Otway again being the line out jumper of choice, provided some good first phase ball. The Quins now matched the home side in the try count. Ben Pratt getting the first, Tony Martin the second converted by Adam Squance, the third from scrumhalf Josh Ledger, they all came from penalties which were taken quickly, Mark Unsworth being the first receiver always made ground and with good support produced the quality second phase ball for the backs to use. Play anywhere Roger Goulding found himself at No 8 and skipper, he quietly kept the team together and positive and awarded the man of the match pink T-shirt to Tony Martin for his dynamic display. Wing Jamie Balloch ever present all season played his last game before going travelling, we all hope he has a good atlas or may never leave the county!  Next week the Quins are away to Crediton in the Merit Table.

In the conditions lineouts were a lottery

Paignton 2nd  17  Sidmouth 2nd  7

 

According to the dictionary there are two types of shower. The first is “a fall of rain or sleet or snow accompanied by wind” the second is “washing under a spray of (usually) warm water”. Sidmouth Quins made the 71 mile round trip to experience considerable amounts of the first type and a complete absence of the second. Needless to say it was a dispirited group of players who arrived back in Sidmouth, cold wet and very dirty having had the added affront of playing a well organised Paignton outfit.

Nonetheless despite the postponement of Sidmouth’s 1st XV match against North Petherton the Quins arrived in Paignton with the usual group of stalwarts and also included some Colts to give them experience of senior rugby. The start of the match was delayed by a windswept referee to allow a series of squalls to pass, but once underway both teams battled against surface water, wind and driving rain and surprisingly managed to play some half decent rugby. With the wind behind them Paignton kept Sidmouth back in their half for the majority of the first period, attempts by Ben Pratt and Cam Grainger to kick clear usually resulted in the wind bringing the ball back towards the kicker. Paignton’s well drilled forwards kept bearing down on Sidmouth’s line until the pressure told and Paignton claimed two 5 pointers one of which was well converted. After initial difficulties the Sidmouth pack worked hard, with the starting front five of Tom Irish, Mark Osborne, Tom Reed, Beau Henrickson and Roger Goulding all committing to both the set piece and fieldwork.

In the conditions lineouts were a lottery but Sidmouth held their own thus allowing some playable ball to the backs. Early forced changes saw Stuart Bickerstaff moved to centre and Neil Barratt in as hooker however Sidmouth seemed to raise their game and began a period of sustained pressure but unfortunately without any points. As the half came to the end Paignton, somewhat against the run of play, touched down for another unconverted try giving the half time score of 17 – 0.

Sidmouth faced the second half with some optimism as they anticipated help from the weather and also were motivated by the realisation that they were playing what appeared to be a team from a higher level. The weather however had different plans with the gusting winds and driving rain giving way to just a winter’s afternoon, meaning Paignton didn’t have to battle to make any forward progress. The Sidmouth three quarters began to stretch their legs and with two exciting breaks showed that the game wasn’t beyond them. A fine run by Stuart Bickerstaff cutting through the middle of Paignton’s defence was halted 10 metres short, a series of forwards drives saw Beau Henrickson peel away to score Sidmouth’stry under the posts, Cam Grainger adding the extras making it 17 – 7 with 20 minutes to go, Sidmouth kept probing and looking for another score but were denied by some scrambled defence. With further enforced changes of players resulting in uncontested scrums the momentum was lost and the game slowed to a very muddy, wet and cold conclusion. With quick handshakes all round both sets of players set off at speed to the anticipated warm and plentiful showers only to discover there were none. As Sidmouth’s Captain Stuart Bickerstaff was heard to mutter – “the perfect end to a perfect day!”  With the coveted pink Man of the Match T-shirt justifiable awarded to someone who, under the mud, looked like Mark Osborne the Sidmouth contingent headed home to clean up, warm up and drink up!