Okehampton 28 - Crediton 29

WITH the very successful league campaign now consigned to history, it was time for Crediton Rugby Club to focus on the County Cup Competitions and in particular the Devon Senior Cup for the First XV.

With the top eight clubs in the league structure from level five downwards, Crediton were in a competition with Brixham, Devonport, Exmouth, Ivybridge, Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Sidmouth and Teignmouth.

Split into two groups of four, teams played across the groups.

The three sides in Crediton’s group were Ivybridge, Exmouth and Teignmouth although the group games were against the teams in the other side of the draw.

Crediton’s opening game against Devonport had been postponed because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the next available date became a victim to the weather and ultimately, Crediton were unable to fit the game in and conceded to Devonport.

The rather long break to the next game finally ended on Saturday, March 25 with a trip to one league higher Okehampton and what a game that turned out to be.

Okes were clear favourites having had a hugely successful post Christmas run in the league and indeed were unbeaten on their own ground during that time.

Crediton also had a successful season and, although not at full strength, were always going to be in with a chance. This was the first occasion that the two sides had opposed each other at First XV level since 2016.

In the opening quarter, things looked pretty ominous from Crediton’s perspective, they seemed to incur the wrath of the referee so much so that they were reduced to 14 men when lock Chris Courtier was yellow carded.

To add to the woes, Crediton found themselves 14 points adrift as Okey bagged themselves a couple of converted tries.

They could have been further ahead had they opted to take the points with a couple of relatively simple penalty opportunities that came their way.

Of course, adversity often brings the best out of people and the Crediton side began to hold their discipline and put the home side under pressure. The arrears were reduced when lock, Josh Lee got the final touch to a driving maul.

Both sides had their defences tested to the limit and both held firm until the break.

Having played up the slope and against the elements in the first period, the nine point gap was always within reach as Crediton now had that advantage and so it proved when early pressure brought an error from Okey and Josh Lee pounced on the loose ball and made good, yards before offloading to centre Ben Wonnacott who went over, Ollie Avery-Wright added the extras and the deficit reduced to two points. The joy was short lived as Okes were back to nine points clear with a well worked try with a midfield break that created space and a chink in our defence, for a seven pointer.

Crediton then responded with possession from a lineout deep in the Okes territory, and it was Josh Lee once again who got the touch down, the conversion was missed but the gap reduced to four points.

Crediton were playing with plenty of self-belief and having been awarded a penalty opted for a scrum.

A text book blind side move ended with winger Bobby Jenkin flying over in the corner, Ollie Avery-Wright added the extras and Crediton were ahead for the first time in the game.

The three point advantage was always going to be under threat so when Josh Pearce stole the Okes lineout, the ball was quickly fed to the backs and a clever kick from fullback Josh Davey set up a simple foot race between Jenkin and the home defence.

It was Jenkin who proved to be the quickest and, although the conversion failed to find its mark, Crediton still had an eight point cushion.

The home side hit back with 15 minutes remaining with another backs move which exposed us defensively and it became a one point game.

A second yellow card came after Crediton defended frantically and the resulting penalty looked as though it would restore the lead for Okes. However, there is often a fine line between success and failure and the kick hit the post and Crediton cleared to touch.

The final five minutes was simply a question of Crediton’s defence and it proved impenetrable, and when a home player offered some advice to the match official, Crediton were awarded a penalty and cleared the ball dead for a momentous 29-28 victory.

This was an outstanding effort by the whole Crediton squad in a typical mid-Devon local derby, played in front of a large crowd, but plaudits must go to both sides for a very entertaining game of rugby, especially for the neutrals watching, if there were any!

Crediton now look forward to hosting Sidmouth at Blagdon on Saturday, April 1 in the next round of the cup.

Crediton Thirds 55 - Ilfracombe 5

The Thirds celebrated their winning of the Sandford Orchards Merit Table Team of the Month Award for February with a really good performance against an Ilfracombe side that are one place above them in the Merit Table.

As the scoreline would suggest, the Thirds dominated the game from start to finish with a performance that showed that there is some real quality in Third XV rugby.

As a Club, Crediton is fortunate to have such a group of committed players, a combination of youth and experience and with a tremendous leader in John Gurzynski.

The forwards had the better of the exchanges throughout the game and the backs thrived off good possession.

To be fair to Ilfracombe, they had their moments but lacked any finishing power until the very last play of the game when they scored a try.

For Crediton, the evergreen veteran prop Wayne Reed proved there was plenty left in the tank as he led the scoring with two tries, one from two metres when he pounced cat-like on a loose ball to dive over and the other when he raced home from five metres.

Hooker Lewis Cook, flanker Jack French, fly-half Aiden White, scrum-half Joe Warren, winger Kieran Jones, No8 Liam Staite and centre Sam Rowe all touched down with fullback Owen Cooper landing five conversions.

A great performance and tremendous spirit in the squad.

Crediton Colts 33 - Tavistock Cols 14

The Colts welcomed the Moorlanders to Blagdon and both sides put on an entertaining display.

Having been beaten in the away fixture earlier in the season, Crediton knew they would be in for a tough encounter, which it certainly was.

Playing up the slope and against the wind on the leisure centre pitch, Crediton opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Tariq Sayers broke up the blindside and powered over. 

Tom Cooper added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Crediton were working hard to keep possession and putting some phases together, but Tavistock used the elements well and were able to put Crediton under pressure. 

Crediton’s discipline was better than previous weeks and they were able to defend without giving away lots of penalties!

However, it was Tavistock who scored next to bring the scores level at 7-7. Both sides were enjoying a fair share of time with the ball and Crediton retook the lead on 25 minutes when Charlie Gribble crossed for an unconverted try.

Tavistock responded almost immediately as Crediton failed to exit from the kick-off and found themselves 12-14 down.

With half-time approaching Crediton worked themselves into the Tavistock “22” and began to hammer away at their line.

After working some good phases Ben Harris, with a couple of defenders on his back, showed good strength to score. 

Cooper converted for 19-4 lead at the break.

Although Crediton had the slope and wind in their favour for the second half, hard work was still the order of the day. 

Tavistock were by no means out of the game and still looked dangerous at times.

Crediton extended their lead following a good blindside move from a scrum. Winger James Knox received the ball and showed his pace to get to the corner and then showed his strength to finish. 

Tom Gray converted this one and it was 26-14.

Crediton were playing some good rugby and Tavistock were struggling to make any ground in the game.

Good off the top ball from a lineout on Crediton’s 10 metre line, followed by a sublime long pass from Kofi Firth set Sayers off on a rampaging run to dot down for his second. 

Gray converted to make it 33-14. And that’s how it finished.

Overall, this was up there with Crediton’s best display of the season. Tavistock had their moments but Crediton controlled the game well and were fully deserving of the win.  

On Saturday, April 1 the First XV continue the quest for the Devon Senior Cup with a home game against Sidmouth.

The Quins will play Sidmouth Seconds in the Second XV Cup Competition. The Thirds and Colts were looking for games at the time of going to print.

Paul Harris