Chard 41 - Crediton 46
CREDITON RFC First XV travelled to Chard on September 23, not the happiest of hunting grounds for us in recent years but nonetheless, confidence was reasonably high that we could indeed get a result.
That confidence was slightly knocked as early as the fourth minute when the home side won a lineout from which they set up a driving maul and opened their account with an unconverted try.
Fortunately, we regrouped and set up camp in the Chard "22" with patience being the operative word we went through several phases before forcing a penalty which was kicked to the corner.
The resulting driving maul ended with flanker Sam Westcott breaking down the blind side to score in the corner, skipper Ollie Avery-Wright landing the extras for a 7-5 lead.
That lead was increased on 20 minutes when a home lineout went too long and it was Crediton hooker Dan Yendell who reacted quickly and picked up the loose ball before shipping on to Westcott who made ground before putting centre Ollie Clark in for a try, OAW converted for a 14-5 lead.
From the restart, our clearance kick was charged down and the home side dribbled the ball over to score at the posts, the conversion reduced the deficit to two points.
The two sides exchanged penalties on 28 and 34 minutes and on half-time OAW added a second penalty for a 20-15 lead at the interval.
We started the second half strongly and earned another penalty which was kicked to the corner.
Another driving maul ended with Westcott grabbing his second try of the game and OAW again adding the extras for a 27-15 lead. Things got even better within a few minutes when having won some quality ball and testing the home defence with the backs creating opportunities and, after one good move, Jack Arnott put centre Ollie Down through a gap to score in the corner for OAW to land another difficult conversion.
At 34-15 we seemed to be running away with it.
However, Chard responded with another converted try for 34-22. Ollie Down then weaved his way past a few home defenders to score, OAW making it 41-22.
Quite what happened during the next few minutes will doubtless remain a mystery as the home side came back strongly.
Firstly, they ran back a clearance kick and we seemed to be falling off tackles as they bagged their bonus point try which was converted.
Within minutes they won good ball from a scrum and used their backs to good effect to score another converted try and at 41-36, whilst we held the lead, the momentum was clearly with the home side.
That point was proved when another move through their backs and a try in the corner levelled things up at 41-all and everything to play for.
Fortunately, the final score of the game went our way, we stole a home lineout and replacement Will Crang made good ground from a break before putting Ollie Down in for his hat-trick try. The conversion drifted wide but it mattered not as there was no further scoring.
For the neutral, this would have been an entertaining game with each side scoring six tries.
However, to concede six tries must be a cause for concern from a defensive perspective.
Granted we scored more points than the opposition and of course that is the object of the exercise. That said, we have now played four league games and are conceding on average 26 points a game whereas last season we averaged 16 points in the against column. Certainly, the defensive frailties will need to be addressed. We are certainly scoring more tries this season, currently 24 against 17 after four games last season which is certainly encouraging.
Crediton Quins 64 - Exeter Athletic 15
There was a little confusion over the final score as the referee had accounted for 11 tries for a scoreline of 69-15 whereas the electronic scoreboard and the match reporter could only account for 10.
Either way the result was pretty emphatic and indeed created a bit of history as all 10 tries were scored by different players, a remarkable statistic.
In fairness to Exeter Athletic, whilst they were severely outgunned in all departments, they never gave up the battle but today certainly belonged to the Quins.
Ironically, it was the City side that were first on the scoreboard having applied all the early pressure, they earned a penalty as the Quins were caught offside.
They took the three points for an early lead. Any joy was short lived as the restart was sent deep into Exeter territory and the clearance kick was charged down.
Josh Goldman won the race to touch down for a 5-3 lead after seven minutes.
We began to build the pressure and a lineout some 10 metres out set up a driving maul and it was hooker Bobby Mogford, fresh from his sabbatical, who got the touch down. Tom Ronchetti converted for a 12-3 lead.
Within two minutes, a tremendous carry from Sam Rowe with an offload to Josh Pearce set up Josh Atkinson for a strong run for a try wide out for a 17-3 lead after 20 minutes.
The Athletic came into the game a bit more and enjoyed some possession for a period but lacked any penetration, although for 15 minutes they held their defensive line with some strong tackling.
However, two Quins tries just before the interval put paid to any hopes of a comeback.
Firstly, it was centre Freddie Blackburn who scored when a Quins attack seemingly had fizzled out, the ball went loose and it was Blackburn who picked up and raced in for the bonus point try.
This was soon followed by another when fullback Freddie Borthen made one of his trademark breaks before linking with Blackburn to put winger Ethan Power in. Ronchetti added the extras to both tries for a 31-3 lead at half-time.
The second half began in much the same way as the first with the visitors dominating territory and possession and the Quins coughed up a few penalties.
A quick tap and go saw the Athletic score from close range. The try was converted to reduce the arrears, 31-10.
Ten minutes later it was the Quins who used the tap and go to good effect, this time ending with replacement prop Cameron Vooght going over. Ronchetti again accurate with the kick to lead 38-10.
Another score soon followed when No8 Chris Hooper picked up at the base of a scrum and put scrum half James Dodge in for a try for 43-10.
Winger Josh Woodland then got in on the act with one of his solo efforts after fielding a clearance kick on the visiting 10 metre line, racing through tackles to score at the posts soon to be followed by another score this time from Hooper after good work which saw backs and forwards link up well. Ronchetti added the two conversions.
With time running out, another break by Blackburn put Josh Pearce in for the final Quins score, which he converted.
As the first word went to Exeter Athletic, so did the last when a somewhat sliced clearance kick by Sam Rowe went straight into the hands of a visiting player who ran in for a well deserved try to complete the scoring.
This is an extremely young Quins side with players gaining experience with every game.
The average age of the backs is 22, including the evergreen Tom Ronchetti, whilst the forwards average age is 27.
In the entire squad there are only four over 30’s and 12 under 25’s.
Without exception, the squad of 20 players have all come through the Junior section to seniors via the Colts.
The aforementioned Tom Ronchetti is a huge asset at fly half and has created an excellent partnership with scrum half James Dodge.
Add to that the pace and strength of Freddie Borthen at fullback, Freddie Blackburn, Josh Goldman and Bobby Saunders who rotated in the centre and Josh Woodland, Sam Ronchetti and Ethan Power who shared the wing duties, all supported by the likes of Ben Baxter getting his early tastes of senior rugby and there is as good as a back division as will be seen in this league.
Amongst the forwards, the experience of Bobby Mogford, Sam Rowe and Chris Hooper is there to encourage some real prospects, Macca Jones, Joe Rees and Josh Pearce have been around for a number of years helping lead the way for some of the younger players. Cameron Vooght is developing into a good prop and certainly has a bright future, together with flanker Ben Rodd and lock Josh Atkinson and Matt Pearce, we have as good a pack of forwards as any other in the league.
This is without doubt a squad of players that should be in the mix for the promotion spot when April comes.
Tiverton Thirds 17 - Crediton Thirds 21
A damp Friday under lights at Tiverton saw the Third XV get their first Merit Table victory for the season against a strong home side.
It was the home side that started the stronger and before we knew it, Tivvy were 12-0 ahead with two tries and a conversion.
However, we did settle and began to claw our way back onto the game.
Fly half Owen Cooper reduced the arrears with a penalty and we gradually built up the pressure.
Shortly before the interval, Cooper put another penalty to the corner and the resulting catch and drive ended short of the line, however, it was Joe Wreford who picked up and dived over to leave us 8-12 down at half-time.
A few changes at half-time and a change of emphasis as we opted to go wide with the ball and play was end-to-end.
A kick through followed by a good chase and the home defender was caught in possession and turned over.
Centre Tariq Sayers went over and Cooper converted for a 15-12 lead.
Tivvy hit back and regained the lead with an unconverted try and they continued to press.
However, we were given a relatively easy exit when the home side gave away a penalty. Another penalty followed and again we kicked for position.
A third penalty, this time within kicking distance allowed Cooper to regain the lead albeit by a single point.
Tiverton responded and they put us under pressure but defensively we were outstanding and turned over possession to set up an attack. Once again, Tivvy infringed and Cooper landed his third penalty of the evening to give a lead of four points which we held until the final whistle.
An excellent win for this ever improving Third XV. Tiverton Thirds are a really good fixture and is always evenly contested, more games like this will help these young players develop.
Tomorrow, Saturday the Chiefs entertain Wellington who are level on points with us with three wins from their opening four games.
The Quins travel to Kingsteignton to play Newcross and hopefully they will keep the momentum going.
The Third XV host Honiton Second XV in the Merit Table and the Colts are at home against Topsham.