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Chiefs progress in the cup on away team rule


Chiefs

By Geronimo Jim
February 19 2007

Q. When is a draw not a draw? A. When its in a cup competition! Im sure that many a debate will be had about what is the best method of deciding such cup games. It has to be said though that on the balance of play on the day the Chiefs probably deserved their progress in the competition. bedford report

Bedford 13 Exeter Chiefs 13.

 Q. When is a draw not a draw?

A. When it’s in a cup competition!

 I’I'm sure that many a debate will be had about what is the best method of deciding such balanced cup games. It has to be said though that on the balance of play on the day the Chiefs probably deserved their progress in the competition.

 This was a game that was never going to be pretty, a do or die cup game with both teams keen to come away with bragging rights, Exeter especially wanting to avenge the injury time drop goal defeat at the County Ground last season.

 In the early exchanges Bedford exerted a good degree of pressure in the Exeter 22 but never really looked like breaching what was to be once again an immense defensive effort from the Chiefs. No matter how loudly the hugely partisan crowd howled, no matter how much “advice” the referee received there was no way through and the Exeter line remained intact. Eventually and perhaps inevitably the referee did ping Exeter for a penalty that centre James Pritchard duly converted seven minutes into the game.

 With comments from some Bedford fans about “same old boring Exeter” the pack began to make inroads into Bedfords’ half with a series of pick and go moves to gain the territory needed to unleash the  pocket rocket that is Jason Luff, who surged through to score between the posts, converted by Yapp, 3 – 7 after 23 minutes. This gave the small band of visiting fans the lift they needed, clearly (it seemed) Bedfords’ defence was going to be easier to overcome than the Chiefs’.

 As a result of an infringement from the restart however, Pritchard was able to put his side back into contention with his second penalty of the day to bring the Blues within a point. With Yappy slotting another 3 pointer five minutes later spectators could be forgiven for thinking that in a game played literally under a cloud it seemed that this was going to become a matter of attrition with the winner being the team most able to defend without attracting the attention of the referee. This first half ended with the Chiefs in a not too comfortable 6 – 10 lead.

 The second half began with Adam Staniforth in the 10 position having replaced Tony Yapp during the interval. Stanni was soon in on the action with a penalty kick early in the half to make the score 6 – 13. Whether it was playing up the slope or the fading light who knows? But the Chiefs, whilst keeping the work rate up, particularly in defence, appeared to some to be content to try to grind out the remainder of the game, but with over half an hour to go this was always going to be a risky strategy. There were bright spots with half breaks from the centres and one particularly effective break down (or should we say up?) the left wing by Luffy. Having made some 15 – 20 metres Luff was caught by the defence only to throw a wildly high and speculative pass infield when perhaps staying on his feet and waiting for his forwards to offer support may have been the sensible option. Thankfully nothing dangerous materialised from the loose ball and the game quickly settled back into its familiar pattern.

 Bedford, showing great resilience kept banging at the Chiefs’ defence at every opportunity but the Chiefs never looked like folding, epitomised by one particularly spectacular tackle by Mark Fatialofa who took his opposite number Pritchard out in magnificent fashion. However, in the closing minutes of ordinary time things were starting to look ominous with the Bedford attack gaining if not momentum, at least territory. Now into injury time a series of scrums were set close to the goal with Bedford to put in. Exeter were now desperately hanging on for the win that they deserved and no doubt all of the art and craft of front row play was coming into play. The upshot of whatever was going on in the scrum was a penalty try awarded to Bedford and converted by Pritchard. With the scores tied at 13 – 13 two 10 minute periods would be played to try to break the deadlock. With both teams now effectively out on their feet the following 20 minutes of rugby almost inevitable drew a blank for both sides although Exeter had the best opportunity with a far from simple penalty opportunity that Stanniforth was unable to convert into the much needed 3 points. In the end though it didn’t matter, in the event of a draw after extra time the away team qualifies under the competition rules so the Chiefs move one step closer to Twickers.


A personal point of view - This was a typical cup match between two fairly evenly matched sides, though talking to some Bedford fans they seemed to believe that they were refereed out of the game, a somewhat strange conclusion given that the referee handed them a lifeline on the stroke of full time with a penalty try. On balance, and trying not to be one eyed, the Chiefs deserve to go on in this competition, in the end it was Chiefs one try, Bedford no tries.

More match pictures







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Match report and pictures by - Geronimo Jim

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