Bright start faded

Sidmouth 1st XV 14, Wadebridge Camels 1st XV 28

During the opening spell all went to plan, but in the 10th minute things began to unravel in a way which would seal the fate of this match, and could have long-term consequences. The problems were, in roughly equal measure, caused by bad luck and self-inflicted, writes Terry O’Brien.

The Chiefs started brightly, regaining possession from the kick off and pressing in the Wadebridge 22. In the fifth minute Jack Pyne crossed the line but lost control of the ball before touching down. A minute later Nick Mills turned over possession in a maul near the line and Tom Whelan dummied his way over under the posts. He also added the conversion.

A second try should have been added but the ball went to ground with a big overlap on the right. Then events began to take a turn for the worse when Tom Seward sustained a serious shoulder injury and left the field for hospital. Wadebridge capitalised on the disruption, and some lacklustre defending, to equalise when the outside centre cut through to score a try converted by the fly half.

An all-to-familiar high penalty count and a failure to secure their own lineout ball saw the balance of play swing towards the visitors. Eventually the referee lost patience and yellow carded Tom Irish “pour encourage les autre”. He failed.

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Wadebridge made use of their extra man to score a second try when the outside centre crossed once again following a quick tap penalty move. The try was unconverted. In attempting to prevent the score, Jason Luff tore a hamstring and left the field. Then, just before half-time, Rhys Thomas became the second player to be shown the yellow card.

After the restart, no sooner had Thomas rejoined than Nick Mills was sin binned. Wadebridge immediately capitalised when a forward burst over following a ruck close to the line. The try was converted.

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A head injury caused Matt Goss to become the third Sidmouth player to leave the field. There was a long delay for treatment and awaiting the ambulance.

The Chiefs by then had all three replacements on the field and two forwards in a makeshift backline. Despite their many problems, the Chiefs fought a brave rear-guard action. In the next 20 minutes Wadebridge could only add a penalty before Sidmouth hopes were raised by a fine try. After a period of pressure Jack Pyne burst over under the posts after Tom Whelan had made the running from a quick tap penalty. Whelan added the conversion.

A smart piece of enterprise and a well-judged kick by Sam Meadham took play back into the Wadebridge 22 and the possibility of a bonus point. But yet another lineout throw went astray, allowing Wadebridge to break out, and after a period of pressure the scrum half scampered over from a ruck near the line. The conversion made the final score 14-29.

The Chiefs now have the problem of reorganising a backline, which could be further disrupted by the imminent departure of Tom Whelan. The high penalty count at the breakdown also needs to be addressed.

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