Sidmouth may be at the wrong end of the Tribute South West One West league table, but they are certainly good value for keeping supporters on the edge of their seats until the final whistle, writes Terry O’Brien.
Most games have been close, with the result in doubt until the end. The Chiefs drew level with two minutes of normal time to go, but eight minutes of extra time added to the tension at College Road and, when the final whistle was blown, the score was 21-21 between Bridgwater & Albion and Sidmouth Chiefs.
Bridgwater opened the scoring after five minutes with a penalty kicked by the fly half. The closest either side came to scoring a try in the first quarter came when George Locke and Phil Dollman combined on the blindside of a ruck before the latter was tackled just short of the line. However, the referee had spotted an earlier infringement and Cole Monaghan kicked the goal to level the scores.
The Bridgwater backs began to combine well and outflanked the Sidmouth defence too easily, testing the cover defence. However, once again it was the Chiefs who came closest to scoring when a turnover in their own half resulted in a Phil Dollman break. He timed his pass well to Cian Warren, but the wingman was tackled into touch just short of the line.
The Chiefs remained on the attack until a second Cole Monaghan penalty gave them the lead.
Bridgwater drew level with a similar effort before the Rob Griffin broke away from a lineout inside the opposing 22. He reached the line but was unable to ground the ball.
Two minutes before halftime, Bridgwater took the lead with an excellent try. The right winger joined the line to cut through the centre. He linked up with the outside backs and the full back finished the move off in the left corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful leaving the score at 6-11.
With their forwards gaining an edge in the set pieces, the Chiefs began to control matters after the restart. Tom Hodge made a clean break through the centre before passing to George Locke, but support was not on hand to carry the move on.
A good handling move set up Cian Warren on a sprint into the Bridgwater 22, where the home side were awarded a scrum. This was badly disrupted, and the pressure resulted in a charged down kick. The ball fell nicely for Rob Griffin to gather and score a converted try.
A Cole Monaghan grubber kick into the 22 had the full back caught in possession and the Chiefs won the resulting ruck. The forwards drove to the line, where Jed Reid burrowed his way over for an unconverted try.
Bridgwater replied almost immediately when their backs combined well to take play deep into the Sidmouth 22. They kept possession through several phases until the scrum half found a gap to dart in under the posts. The conversion levelled the scores.
A resurgent Bridgwater took the lead with a penalty with five minutes of normal time to go.
When the Chiefs turned over possession at a ruck inside the Bridgwater half, the irrepressible Rob Griffin rampaged up to the 22, where Sidmouth were awarded a penalty wide out on the right. Cole Monaghan struck his kick perfectly to level the scores.
Despite a long period of added time, neither side were able to take advantage.
On Saturday (November 27) the Chiefs entertain league leaders Chew Valley kicking off at 2.30pm. Sidmouth Quins travel to Brixham in search of a rare double against the Fishermen.