League leaders Sidmouth were the visitors to The Athletic Ground on Saturday. On a day ideal for an open game this encounter did not disappoint, writes Allyn Chetland, and was a fantastic advertisement for the Western Counties West league. The game ebbed & flowed throughout with Sidmouth eventually going on to take the spoils.
From the off the game started at a tremendous pace and this continued throughout. The first half was nip and tuck with Sidmouth taking an early lead via a penalty which was cancelled out by a penalty from Fullback Alex Davey soon after. Both sides looked threatening with ball in hand but both defences stood firm. The R&Bs took the lead with another Davey penalty which was in turn cancelled out by a Sidmouth penalty. Further pressure by The R&Bs late in the game saw Davey coolly slot his 3rd penaylty of the half to give The R&Bs a 9-6 with 5 minutes left in the half. It did look like at this point, with The R&Bs continuing to press, that they would go into the break leading. However a R&B attack broke down deep into Sidmouth’s half, some quick hands and some deft passing saw Sidmouth score a classic counter attack try, which went unconverted, to go into half time leading 9-11.
The R&Bs started the 2nd period well, creating some excellent try scoring chances. These efforts were rewarded when Danny Lee powered over for a try close to the posts, the try was converted by Davey to give The R&Bs a 16-11 lead. Unfortunately following this try The R&Bs discipline did desert them somewhat and they conceded numerous penalties in a row one of which was slotted between the posts to reduce The R&Bs lead to 16-14. Soon after another penalty was conceded by The R&Bs and the official lost his patience, as a result Captain Paddy Jarman spent the next 10 minutes in the sin bin an accumulation of penalties conceded! Now with a numerical advantage in players Sidmouth visibly picked up their efforts and ran in 12 unanswered points during this 10 minute period to take a ten point lead going into the last 15 minutes. With 15 men now back on field The R&Bs rolled up their sleeves and doubled their efforts going on to exert a lot of pressure on the visitors’ line. Winger Nev Pitman popped up near a ruck to take a deft & well-timed pass to score near the posts. Davey made no mistake with the extra points to set up a frantic last 5 minutes. The R&Bs tried their outmost to get a try that would give them victory or force a penalty for a draw but it wasn’t to be, the visitors held out for the win. A thoroughly entertaining game – huge credit to both teams.
Obviously it wasn’t the result The R&Bs wanted but the performance from the team cannot be faulted against a well drilled & organised team who will be there or there abouts at the end of season challenging for the league title. The R&Bs front row boys Jack Richards, Joe Dyke & Ryan Marke had their opposite numbers in all sort of trouble all afternoon, Liam Phillips had his best game of the season so far whilst out back Nev Pitman did not take a step backwards all afternoon. A concern for The R&Bs is No.8 Cam Venn who had to leave the field mid-way through the 1st half just as he was starting to make his mark on the game and is an injury doubt for the next game.
Next week The R&Bs make the long trip to St.Austell. The Cornish outfit are in the top 4 of the league so this will be another major challenge for the R&Bs to overcome. If they can play with same amount of passion & commitment that was on display against Sidmouth then it should be another cracking game.
Squad: J.Price, J.Dyke, R.Marke, R.Walker, C.Kitto, D.Lee, L.Phillips, C.Venn, T.Jenkinson, P.Jarman(c), G.Hodgson, C.Batts, R.Hooper, N.Pitman, A.Davey, W.Hinchcliffe, J.Hancock, V.Gordan.