Sidmouth Winning Run Abruptly Halted
Sidmouth 25 – St Ives 29
Bonus Point Win on the Road
St Ives travelled to Devon for the 16th league match of this campaign to play Sidmouth who were on a run of matches that had seen them beat league contenders Devonport Services amongst their seven victories this past two months.
Rob Elloway and Paul Thirlby had selected a strong side to travel, but, on the morning of the match, Liam Jolly was replaced by Paul Thirlby on the replacements bench.
The weather leaving Cornwall was not great but, as the squad entered Devon, the rain had ceased and the cold wind had dried the pitch from any standing water. The ground was sticky and slow, but playable.
The Sidmouth management prior to the match felt that their squad were confident that their winning run would continue after the meeting with the Hakes and that the local support and sponsors for the day were in for a great spectacle. They were only disappointed at one aspect and that was the result but the encounter was well contested, fierce with rugby was played at a highly entertaining standard.
St Ives played up the slope with the advantage of the elements, but it was Sidmouth that showed their credentials in the opening exchanges. 'Exchanges' was the word of the day as the match clearly showed switches of points from Sidmouth to the Hakes minute by minute throughout the contest.
Scrum time was dominant for The Hakes and Rob Elloway was instrumental in that area of business helped by his forwards who have subjugated most sides at scrum time this past season.
Sidmouth kicked into a strong wind and the ref allowed the play to continue. The ball never went 10m, but was first played by Sidmouth. They collected the balled and kicked in behind the Hakes defence. The ball was missed by the defenders and No. 8 Josh Bess collected the bouncing ball and dived over the line for the first score of the afternoon with only a minute of time gone. Fly Half Dan Retter missed the extra points from far out against the elements. Sidmouth supporters were delighted.
The home team looked even more the side that were unbeaten for seven matches. The Hakes needed to settle, focus on aspects of the defence and attack and maintain possession. Sidmouth never allowed that to happen.
The Hakes settle after 10 mins and manage to get into the opposing 22. Line out to Sidmouth. The Hakes looking to snatch the ball and destroy the set piece. This never happened, Sidmouth appeared strong with great exit play and a long clearance.
On the 15min Tom Nicholas took a difficult pass and cleared the ball with a delicate kick, but never recovered from the collision he was involved in at the point of his strike with the ball. The off side backline had clattered Tom and he was taken off for stalwart Paul Thirlby to take to the field at fly half. Brother Grant moved to inside centre and Rhys Brownfield went to outside centre for the rest of the afternoon.
This change was not the best for the Hakes as on the 16th minute Sidmouth received the ball from an under pressure scrum. They scrambled the ball back to fly half Retter and he again kicked in behind the disjointed back line and young flying wing Ethan Mead collected a ball on his toes. He out sprinted the defence to touch down for Sidmouth’s second try of the afternoon. Fly Half Retter converted to take the score to 12 – 0. It appeared that home support was going to have their way.
Sidmouth continued to show promise with great defence and exit plays when The Hakes got into their 22. On the 24th minute a penalty for offside was awarded to the Hakes. Captain Elloway elected to kick in the corner. The ensuing lineout was held up by the defence. The following scrum saw Sidmouth under immense pressure, but still no score for the Hakes.
30 minutes in and a second penalty for offside was awarded. Again The Hakes elected to kick to the corner. A fine catch and set saw front row forward Leigh Hocking take control of the set piece and walk his way over to touch down and get the Hakes on the score board. Rhys Brownfield added the extras, taking the score to 12 – 7.
In the 36th minute another infringement by Sidmouth for offside allowed St Ives to kick to the corner once more. This demonstrated The Hakes intent to score tries and gather bonus points, rather than focus on taking the lead with penalty points. The line out brought another set piece maul. This time industrious open side flanker Chris Quick, who was clearly man of the match for his defence, work rate and ball carrying skills, ended up behind the machine that is The Hakes pack. The try was scored, but the additional points were missed by Brownfield. It was just short of half time and the score was 12 – 12.
Sidmouth were not happy with the response from The Hakes and showed this by getting close the line with only moments to spare in the first half. This again resulted in a kick chase in behind the defence and a great support try by back row forward Tom Seanard saw Sidmouth go 5 points ahead at half time.
Sidmouth 17 – St Ives 12.
St Ives were spoken to at half time and simple basics were discussed. Physicality, ball skills and territory were all on the agenda by coaches Thirlby and Elloway.
Could the visitors respond? You bet! St Ives kicked off. Jamie Prisk, travelling to Devon very much ‘under the weather’, charged down the clearance kick. The ball landed in the hands of Leigh Hocking who went over for his second try of the match. Rhys Brownfield converted and the score changed again; 17 – 19 to The Hakes.
46 mins in and a scrum awarded to Sidmouth saw the referee award a penalty to The Hakes. This scrum showed the complete dominance that the visitors had and the referee was concerned about the safety of some of the Sidmouth front row, as Kye Beasley and Hocking and Elloway were in destruction mode with more to come as the game move into its latter stages.
From the penalty, in good Elloway / Thirlby fashion, the kick went to corner, not the posts. The catch and drive was created and the machine rolled on. This time Rob Elloway took up the reigns and marched his pack towards the line to touch down for a further 5 points. Nothing was added as Brownfield missed the kick, but the home side were left trailing 17 – 24.
Sidmouth continued to pressurise and, as mentioned earlier, this game was full of exchanges. The good form of the home side continued. On 48 minutes the home team’s full back collected a ball and dived into the corner to provide Sidmouth with another opportunity to come back into the game. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 22 – 24 with half an hour to play.
On the 53rd minute Sidmouth selected to kick to the posts unlike The Hakes and were awarded with 3 points from the boot of fly half Dan Retter. Sidmouth now held the lead 25 – 24.
Both side were in sight of victory. It was the experience and power of The Hakes squad that saw the league leaders move up a notch and take the spoils.
Tom Chandler was replaced by Matt Nicol in the second row. Ben Jenkins replaced Hocking in the front row. Peter Mabbott was removed from the field with a leg injury and this was a concern as he rarely leaves unless the issue is serious. Chandler returned to fill the void and found himself making a try saving tackle with minutes to go.
On 70 minutes it was The Hakes mounting pressure on the home side. The hardworking and often elusive Jamie Prisk collected a ball from the back of the maul and boshed his way over for a try. The conversion from the touch line failed, but St Ives led 25 – 29.
The final 10 minutes were set up for a fantastic encounter between two expressive teams who wanted to win at all cost. Who had the will, the experience, the motivation and the resource to take the spoils? At this point there was no question. The Hakes took the game by the scruff of the neck and, although Sidmouth were camped on The Hakes try line for several minutes before time, St Ives players stepped up to the call of the coaches and management.
No breaches, good discipline and lots of hard work was the instruction. There were five lineouts, three penalties and several attempts to breach The Hakes defence. The defence was solid and the home side in possession of the ball. The maul collapsed and the referee signalled a scrum to Sidmouth five metres out. A massive grin emanated from coach Elloway as he took a quick look at his machine, confident they would gather themselves in preparation for one more scrum. The call, the engage, the ball in – the home side crumbled to the floor 10 metres further back from where the scrum commenced.
Sidmouth kicked to touch with 30 seconds on the clock. Jamie Prisk called to Harry Parton at the middle of the line out. The ball was accurately thrown, the catch achieved, the maul set and, with a nod to the referee, scrum half Sam Carter takes the ball and kicks it towards the neighbouring gardens. The final whistle is blown.
St Ives head into next week’s home league match against Paignton 6 points clear at the top of the league and would welcome local spectators to come and watch the Hakes at Alexander Road 2.30pm KO.
Squad – all used
Kye Beasley, Rob Elloway (Capt), Leigh Hocking (Ben Jenkins 57mins), Jamie Prisk, Tom Chandler (Matt Nicol 55mins), Harry Parton, Chris Quick, Martyn Lawrance,
Sam Carter, Grant Thirlby, Pete Mabbott (Tom Chandler 70mins) Rhys Brownfield, Tom Nicholas (Paul Thirlby), Jacob Ninnes.