Sidmouth Chiefs win traditional Boxing Day encounter

PUBLISHED: 11:13 28 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:13 28 December 2017

Hands holding rugby ball

Hands holding rugby ball

(C) 2008 Thinkstock Images

Despite the inclement weather, a good crowd were in attendance at the Blackmore Field for the annual Boxing Day game and were treated to a close and entertaining encounter before heavy rain brought matters to a premature conclusion with the Sidmouth 1st XV leading the President’s XV 27-26, writes Terry O’Brien.

A strong President’s team had been assembled to take on the in-form Chiefs and, with the wind at their backs, they started strongly.

However, the Chiefs’ revival has been founded on a strong, well-organised defence, and they could not find a way through.

Sidmouth eventually broke out, when a loose ball was hacked on and James Powell followed up to dribble it on into the opposing 22.

The President’s XV cleared up the initial danger before the Chiefs were awarded a scrum on the 22-metre line.

Josh Bess broke from the base and sent Cameron Grainger through a gap. The scrum half found Ben Pratt in support to race in for the opening try, which was unconverted.

The Chiefs were soon back on the attack and earned a lineout just inside the 22. Josh Bess made the catch and a driving maul was set up. When the ball was released, Cameron Grainger exploited a gap on the blindside to run in for try number 2, also unconverted.

The President’s XV enjoyed another period of pressure but could not turn it into points. Once again, a dropped pass enabled the ball to be hacked upfield to put the Chiefs on the attack once again. James Powell ran a good angle to cut through and touch down, but the referee ruled the final pass to have been forward.

As the President’s team were progressing upfield, a loose chip ahead went straight into the hands of Rory O’Brien, who found an empty field in front of him. He sprinted in from halfway and converted his own try.

In first-half injury time, Cameron Grainger again found space on the blindside of a driving maul to send Luke Bess on a run down the touchline. He still had plenty to do but left two defenders in his wake before touching down in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the half-time score at 22-0.

The President’s XV regained possession from the restart kick and were soon pressing inside the Sidmouth 22. This time they turned the pressure into points with a pushover try touched down by Ollie Rice and converted by Tom Whelan.

The President’s XV had gained the upper hand in the scrums and began to make it tell as the conditions worsened. Aaron Bagwell dived over from the base of a ruck on the line and the conversion reduced the arrears to eight points.

The Chiefs needed to halt the slide and did so, when they kicked for a lineout deep inside the opposing 22. They set up a driving maul and Ben Halford peeled off to be pushed over for an unconverted try.

The President’s XV soon regained control and George Meadows cut through a gap in the centre for an unconverted try.

Jay Wright finished off a good handling move for Tom Whelan to convert from the touchline to cut the lead to one point before the referee decided that conditions were too bad to continue.

On Saturday the Quins travel to play Teignmouth 2nds.

The Chiefs have a day off on Saturday and resume their league campaign at Paignton on January 6.

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