SIDMOUTH 67 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 0
MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 27th JANUARY 2018
Sidmouth inflicted Tics' biggest defeat of the season. The East Devon side share the same colours (green) as Exeter University – who were promoted from WCW last season as Champions.
The similarity does not end there, because, just as the University are coached by players of Exeter Chiefs, so Sidmouth have secured the services of Sean Maulton for the forwards and Phil Dolman for the 'backs. The other similarity between the two Teams is an expansive form of rugby, which, after a very poor start to the season, has seen Sidmouth win seven out of their last eight League matches.
Indeed, despite unfavourable conditions for handling Sidmouth scored five of their tries in the wide channels through their wingers and having stretched the Tics' defence laterally they were then able to open up sufficient gaps to dot down some additional tries closer to the posts.
The final score however is unfair as it is indicative of a wholly one sided affair. This would a little unfair as Torquay's pack never took a backward step in the set scrums and good, lineout throwing, allied to efficient lifting enabled them to win their own lineout ball ten times out of a dozen.
But Sidmouth backed up their attacking elan with solid and well organised defence, which enabled them to frustrate the many occasions on which Tics pressed with driving play (mainly through the forwards).
Torquay played down the slope in the first period. Twice within the first seven minutes the visitors strayed offside and Dan Retter put over penalties to give his side a 6 – 0 start (the second of which a long range effort)
In between from the initial re-start Torquay had gone through seven phases of play to threaten the Sidmouth line before being halted by a knock on.
Then, in the tenth minute Sidmouth showed real enterprise for the first time and ran the ball out of their own half with both centres and wing Rory O'Brien involved down the left hand side before the winger was able to slip a chasing tackler and aim infield for the posts, thus giving Retter and easy conversion for 13 – 0.
Then another Tics' offence and a further shot at goal by Retter, but it fell short. Tics' fifth lineout went to the script but the ball was then lost on the ground in defence and Sid' spread the loose ball quickly to put Ethan Mead in for a straight run in. Retter converted from the touchline for 20 – 0.
At the end of the first quarter Torquay lost blind side flanker Isaac Fahey to injury, so Dan Woods came on in a straight swap. Immediately Torquay won a penalty and Alex Jeffery, paying at fly half kicked to touch just inside the Sid' 22' on the left. Devon Referee Ian Stawbridge then lectured the Sidmouthy skipper when his side offended for a fourth time.
A cross kick by Jeffery then sat up nicely for left wing Arron Graham, but the covering opposite number was quick enough to see the danger and tackle the Torquay man into touch.
Next, Retter reacted quicker to a loose ball deep in the Torquay 22' and ran in to score close to the posts from only 10 metres out. With the conversion it was now 27 – 0 in the 28th minute.
Sidmouth returned to the attack but this time Retter was forced to knock on as he tried to reprise his earlier try, when he was clattered by Jacob Loewy, who took a knock in the process, but was able to resume after treatment.
Tics' then broke out and leading by example Captain Jon Woodhead was first to a chip ahead, but Sidmouth managed to get back and turn ball over and then put the pressure back on the visitors with their own kick from hand. On this occasion Graham was first to the ball but as Torquay tried to exit their own 22' O'Brien intercepted a pass out wide right and had a clear run in. Retter's conversion made it 34 – 0 after 35 minutes.
A knock on by Tics' in midfield saw Sid' work the ball very quickly again to the touchline where mead picked his way through to score wide left. Retter was on fire with his kicking and once more converted from the touchline, so it was 41 – 0 at the break.
On the resumption Ben Spear appeared in the centre, with Josh Mackin reverting to full back in place of Colt Jake Hempton. Despite playing up the slope Tics' pack managed to push the opposition eight back at the first two set scrums. Perhaps to counter this Sid' made an early change at loose head prop.
By now the pitch was cutting up and becoming something of a gluepot. Unsurprisingly then that the match became littered with a period of knock-ons by both Teams.
Jeffery then kicked a penalty to within 14 metres down the right and Tics' eighth line out went according to plan before Sidmouth infringed at the maul and the result was a 5 metre attacking scrum to the visitors. However for the first time in the match Sid' managed to claw back the throw on their side and the chance to put themselves on the scoreboard was lost to the Tics'.
Sidmouth then returned to the opposite end of the field and went through several attacking phases, using the early offload to keep the momentum going. New Zealand prop Sione Livai was twice involved and with a well timed pop pass put scrum half Johnny Hamill in close to the posts. Retter converted for 48 – 0.
A strong run by Calvin Bradley put Tics' back in the Sid' 22' up the right and (playing advantage) the forwards effected a series of pick and go's to within 5 metres of the try line as the visitors strained to score. Home lock Nick Mills was yellow carded for what was Sid's ninth penalty offence.
Tics' elected to scrum and Lewis Harben picked up at the back and went to the short side but after a by now rare period of Tics' attacking play Sidmouth stole the ball and cleared to half way.
Back inside the visitors 22' Sidmouth then kept up the pace with a tap and go, as Torquay conceded only their first penalty of the second period in the 60th minute. However although Mead crossed for what would have been his try hatric, play was called back for the offence of crossing by Sidmouth backs.' Mead then made way for replacement wing Cameron Grainger, whilst at the same time Dan King came on for Woodhead, who had taken a knock. Hempton was then brought back on to play no.10, with Jeffery reverting to scrum half and Loewy put into the back row.
Tics' second half resistance had been commendable but after a concentrated period of Sid' attacking play inide the Torquay 22' replacement Haydon Down ran through to touch down under the posts and Retter converted for 55 – 0.
Sidmouth then conceded another penalty as Tics' toiled to get over the whitewash. As often happens the score increased in injury time: First, Sidmouth kicked well out of defence and got the benefit of a lineout which they took quickly, as Torquay retreated. Livai latched on to the ball and ran through.
A large Sidmouth crowd then groaned in mock disappointment as Retter's conversion missed for once. There was still time for Sidmouth to return to the attack, but initially Tics' thwarted a kick ahead by a defender getting back alertly to touch down in goal. However after the drop out Sidmouth kicked a final penalty to touch 20 metres out down the left. From the lineout they mauled infield and then released replacement forward Jack Pyne who darted infield to find a gap and score under the posts. Retter's conversion for 67 – 0 was the last action.
15 – Jake Hempton, 14 – Arron Graham, 13 – Josh Mackin, 12 – Ed Bate, 11 – Jacob Brady, 10 – Alex Jeffery, 9 – Jacob Loewy,
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Josh Castleton, 3 – Calvin Bradley, 4 – Jon Woodhead (Captain), 5 – Tom Whitford, 6 – Isaac Fahey, 7 – Shane Wakeham, 8 – Lewis Harben.
Replacements: Ben Spears, Dan Woods, Dan King (all played).
Tics' now face local rivals Paignton at the Rec. on 3rd February; four League points behind the Cherries, but with a game in hand following the decision by South West Leagues for a replay of the St. Austell match on 20th February. Tics' would have collected four points in that natch had the result been allowed to stand.
After detailed deliberation of the RFU's Regulations the Club has decided not to appeal the League's decision for a replay and the match will take place on the Rec. on 10th February with a 2.30 KO.