Crediton 19 - Sidmouth 44

THE penultimate home league game for Crediton Rugby Club First Team on March 2 was set up to be the match of the season, Second plays First and both competing for the one promotion spot and it would have been a brave person to put money on the outcome prior to the kick off.

During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game.
During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game. (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

Unfortunately, from our perspective, we did not live up to the pre-match billing, whereas Sidmouth did, and they certainly merited their victory as, on the day, they were the far better side.

During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game.
During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game. (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

A combination of the visitors turning in their best performance of the season and what was probably one of our poorest almost certainly guaranteed that Sidmouth will be playing in the league above next season.

The opening quarter was dominated by the visitors as we struggled to get any quality possession and an early penalty opportunity for them was missed.

During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game.
During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game. (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

Despite dominating territory and possession, during that period, they had nothing to show on the scoreboard. That did change significantly as the game entered the second quarter when we were caught offside and the penalty option was taken to put them three points ahead.

Defensively, up to this time we had been fairly solid and indeed at times did have our moments in attack but the Sidmouth defence was very much in our faces and we were unable to create any clear-cut chances.

During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game.
During the Crediton RFC v Sidmouth game. (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

Things began to fall apart for us and a three-try burst in the 15 minutes leading to the interval more or less killed the game off.

The constant pressure began to tell and Sidmouth started to pick holes in our defence, their pace and support play was exposing gaps and in all honesty they were making things look simple as the half-time whistle went we were 0-22 down and looking totally out of it.

Things went from bad to worse early in the second half as another seven pointer gave them the bonus point and an unassailable 29 point lead.

We had shown glimpses of our capabilities during the game and at last began to come into the game a bit more.

A couple of breaks down the right almost saw winger Josh Hall in for a try but the cover defence managed to get across in time.

A similar effort down the left and Josh Woodland was bundled into touch a yard short.

We kept some momentum going and eventually were rewarded with a score when Ollie Avery-Wright floated a long pass out to Woodland who used his strength to crash over in the corner.

However, any thoughts of a major comeback were severely dented within a couple of minutes when another defensive gap opened up and the visitors extended their lead once again although the try was not improved upon.

Once again we responded and a quick tap penalty sent Hall over in the corner, OAW converted.

A third try followed soon after with a chip over the top from OAW, which fell nicely for Hall, who collected and dashed over, the OAW conversion took us to 19-34.

Sidmouth, however, had the final word with another converted try and a penalty with the final kick of the game.

It was a disappointing result, certainly Sidmouth deserved their win and we can have no complaints.

At times we were victims of our own mistakes particularly when it came to looking after the ball.

Sidmouth had the edge in the set piece and a few handling errors at crucial times did not help our cause. It was our first home defeat in the league for over two years and our biggest home defeat in the league for eight years.

That said, it is not all doom and gloom, one disappointing performance does not make this a bad side. There is still plenty to play for with three league games remaining plus our Cup semi-finals so there is still something that can be achieved between now and the end of the season.

Sidmouth Second XV 26 - Crediton Quins 33

No Sidmouth team is easy to defeat on their own patch but their Second XV have not had a particularly successful season as they sit in the bottom four of the league.

This would have been a game that perhaps we would have expected to win more comfortably than we did.

The slope at Sidmouth often has a major bearing on the outcome of games and can be a question of which team builds the biggest score when it is their turn to have the advantage.

It was the hosts who opted to play up the slope in the first half and so the Quins needed to take every opportunity and the opening score came within five minutes.

Winning quick ball from the first scrum, we created an overlap and winger Ethan Power went over in the corner with fly-half Tom Ronchetti adding the extras.

It took another 15 minutes before we added to the score and this time it was an attack through fullback Freddie Borthen and winger Callum Yeandle who found themselves with two defenders to beat.

Borthen picked the gap between the two and went over for Ronchetti to add the conversion.

The Quins were dominating the scrum and Sidmouth were beginning to concede penalties and from one we opted to take the scrum again and this time drove the home side over the line for No8 Chris Hooper to touch down, Ronchetti converting for a 21-0 lead.

Sidmouth responded and put some pressure on as they went through several phases before scoring out wide, the difficult conversion was successful.

With the clock running down to the interval the 14 point gap may not have been enough and fortunately, Borthen bagged a second try when he beat his man on the outside to score in the corner.

Ronchetti maintained his 100 per cent record with an excellent conversion to take us to the break with a 28-7 lead but fully aware that we would have some defending to do for the remaining 40 minutes.

Sidmouth know how to play their pitch as they came at us right from the restart and gradually chipped away at our lead bringing the score back to a seven point difference and it looked anyones game.

Fortunately, a visit to the home “22” and a scrum saw Hooper add a second try which was not improved upon.

We were reduced to 14 when Power was yellow carded for a high tackle and the deficit was reduced to seven points again when the home side scored their fourth try.

The conversion failed and we managed to hold out with some outstanding defending to claim a hard earned but deserved bonus point win.

Crediton Colts 35 - Ivybridge Colts 33

THE Colts put in a superb performance to inflict a rare defeat on Ivybridge Colts in a game that was end to end with some quality rugby.

Due to pressure of fitting the competition games in and the fact that Ivybridge had to withdraw from the scheduled game at Crediton a few weeks ago, this game was classed as a “double header”, the match points counting as double.

It has to be said that both sides put everything into this game, no effort was spared and the quality of rugby was at times outstanding.

In what was a complete reversal of the Second XV at Sidmouth, it was the side playing up the slope that generally had the better of things.

The Crediton side elected to play up the slope in the first half and got off to a flying start with a quick try from lock, Sam Cliff, converted by scrum half George Baxter and things got even better when No8 Charlie Conner forced his way over, Baxter adding the extras.

The visitors hit back with a well worked try after several phases and the deficit was reduced to seven points.

Once again though it was Conner who bagged his second after pressure on the Ivybridge line, Baxter again landing the conversion.

Ivybridge were in no mood to let the game slip away from them and they dominated the early stages of the second half, adding two more tries, one converted to make it a two point difference.

We then began to play for territory and a couple of long raking licks from fly-half Tom Cooper kept the visitors pinned in their own “22”.

A well taken try from centre Charlie Gribble using his strength and pace after a good handling move, plus the Baxter conversion gave us a bit of breathing space.

Within minutes, the same pairing added a further seven points for a 35-19 lead which looked to have secured the bonus point win.

To their credit, Ivybridge had other ideas and they too added a further two converted tries and for the final five minutes the game was in the balance. Fortunately, our defence held out for a 35-33 win to give us 10 league points.

Both sides should be congratulated for the quality of their performance contributing to an exciting and entertaining game in conditions that were not always easy bearing in mind the recent wet weather.

Credit should also be given to the groundstaff whose tireless efforts ensured that two games were played at home.

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 9 , the First XV have no game – another blank league Saturday!

However, Crediton Ladies host Penryn in the league with a 2pm Kick Off on Sunday. The Quins travel to Tiverton for a league game and the Colts are at home against Newton Abbot in the Colts Cup tomorrow.

Paul Harris