Thursday, April 10, 2014
Cleve 49, Sidmouth 16
For 70 minutes this game was very much in the balance, with the Chiefs contributing to very entertaining game, writes Terry O’Brien.
However, in the closing stages the importance of replacements and the interchange regulation was crucial to the outcome and the margin of victory. Where the Sidmouth had only one replacement available, Cleve had the full three allowed. All came on to make a significant impact, while the ability to interchange the front row players kept them fresh against tiring opponents.
The Chiefs kicked off into the breeze, but Cleve showed why they are promotion contenders, as forwards and backs combined well to take play into the Sidmouth 22. The Chiefs did well to keep their line intact, but conceded a penalty, which was kicked by the home scrum half.
Dan Retter levelled the scores after Dan Rugg had burst forward from a lineout maul and James Salter had carried the ball on into the 22.
The Sidmouth backs showed their potential with a slick handling move out of their 22 before Jevon Astley-Jones kicked deep into Cleve territory. However, Cleve were soon back on the attack and were awarded a penalty try when a driving maul was collapsed near the line. The scrum half added the conversion.
A fine outside break by George Locke saw him embark on a 40-metre run before linking with Giles Dixon, unfortunately he could not find support as the cover defence closed in. However, the Chiefs finished the half strongly and were rewarded with a second Retter penalty to go in trailing 10-6.
Two minutes after the restart, Cleve extended their lead with a fine piece of continuity, which left their backs running at forwards and the outside centre had the pace to outflank them.
Retter kicked third penalty before Cleve pulled away again when their forwards drove over from a lineout catch-and-drive for a converted try. Midway through the half, James Dyer kept his side in contention with an interception try from near his own 22 and Retter slotted the conversion.
Cleve added a penalty before a crucial change of fortunes in the 70th minute. A break by Giles Dixon sparked a superb move, which took play to the left then right through several phases. They created an overlap on the right. The Cleve winger, faced with three attackers, gambled on an interception. The gamble paid off and he ran in under the posts to give a simple conversion.
With the Cleve replacements paying dividends against the tiring Sidmouth pack, they scored a pushover try. And two tries in injury time further exaggerated the difference between the two sides.
In a challenging season, several young players have been thrown in at the deep end of senior rugby. They have not drowned but are showing steady improvement and a great fighting spirit, which will pay dividends in future seasons.
On Saturday the Chiefs entertain Clevedon (3pm) whilst the Quins travel to face Topsham 1st XV.
See a selection of action pictures from the game taken by Gordon Lindsay LRPS at www.sidmouthherald.co.uk