Winscombe 1sts 25 Sidmouth Chiefs 21
By Ted Sands
a remarkable last minute victory over Sidmouth Chiefs.
The competitive nature of Western Counties West came into stark relief at the weekend when Winscombe, who have struggled for much of the season, secured a remarkable last minute victory over Sidmouth Chiefs.
The Chiefs arrived in Somerset looking for a win that would take them to the top of the league table but faced a Winscombe first team who have recently tapped into a rich vein of form and who had won all three of their previous matches.
Playing up the slope but with a strong wind advantage in the first half Winscombe took the game to their visitors. Carrying strongly they made inroads through Sidmouth’s defence time and again forcing a series of infringements. Centre Sam Dearsley slotted two penalty kicks but was unsuccessful with a further three longer range efforts.
As halftime approached Sidmouth eventually had a spell of possession and moved the ball wide to wing Ben Halford who raced into the corner for their first try. Fly Half Dan Retter’s conversion gave the Chiefs a slender 6-7 lead as the whistle sounded.
Sensing that they had not taken full advantage of their dominance in the set piece Winscombe came out strongly at the start of the second period and a storming break from halfway by flanker Oscar Browne left Sidmouth’s defence in tatters. He crossed in the corner for his first try as a senior and for a score that returned the lead to the home team.
Sidmouth responded quickly and decisively with two tries by winger Luke Wells-Burr both of which were expertly converted by Retter, who kicked sensationally all day given the conditions. As the match moved into its final quarter the lead that the Chiefs had built seemed unassailable. This might have been the case had it not been for Winscombe’s pack.
Throughout the season, Winscombe’s key strength has been their scrum and it was a combination of their dominance in this set piece and Sidmouth’s persistent indiscipline that eventually told.
Reduced to 14 men after the yellow carding of their captain Ollie Pyne, Sidmouth were forced to defend a scrum on their five metre line. Winscombe controlled the pressure and drove up to the line for replacement No.8 Ewan Griffith to calmly touch down as the scrum disintegrated.
As the match came to a conclusion another penalty and another short range scrum resulted in a ruck a few metres out from the Chief’s line. The ball sat up nicely for Griffith to gather and to power over for his second try.
Dearsley’s conversion took the score to 25-21 and sealed a memorable win at the end of a thoroughly entertaining match