Crediton 43 - Newton Abbot 26
THE All Whites arrived at Blagdon on Saturday, February 3, seeking their third successive victory in an effort to get clear of the relegation spots.
For our part, we needed a bonus point win just to keep the pressure on Sidmouth and retain our second spot in the league.
In the opening 15 minutes each side looked capable of scoring whenever they got into opposition territory and indeed that is how things went.
The early pressure came from the visitors and we were forced to defend for the opening five minutes.
We eventually turned over possession and broke away but an interception provided an opportunist try for Newton Abbot with a conversion to give them a seven-point lead.
Immediately from the restart, we earned a line-out and quick ball set up the backs and it was fullback Freddie Blackburn who came into the line at pace to break through and score.
Minutes later and a clearance kick was fielded and we set up another attack with No8 Ben Wonnacott breaking a couple of tackles before putting scrum half James Dodge away for a try, fly-half Mark Lee converted for a 12-7 lead.
That lead did not last long as an All Whites scrum five metres out was collapsed and the referee awarded a penalty try to leave us two points adrift.
Once again though the response was swift and after winning another line-out we set up several phases before lock Tom Mortimer went over, Lee converted for 19-14.
Fifteen minutes and five tries certainly kept the large crowd entertained and made the next 15 minutes looked remarkably tame by comparison.
Play went from end-to-end but handling errors and strong defending prevented any scoring.
However, on the half hour it was Mark Lee who finished off a period of pressure as he weaved his way past a few defenders to score at the posts and followed up with the conversion.
A try bonus was secured before half-time although the visitors were not finished yet and once again they camped on our line and eventually forced their way over. The conversion was missed and we reached the break with a 26-19 lead.
The second half was a little less frantic than the first and it took 20 minutes for the next score although the wait was worth it, a sweeping move involving most of the backs ended with winger Bobby Jenkin using his pace to score in the corner.
Eight minutes later another move spread the ball wide and this time it was the other winger Josh Hall who finished things off for a 36-19 lead.
Newton Abbot still had plenty to play for and went in search of a bonus point try and it came after another period of pressure on our line.
We did give up a few penalties and eventually they crossed the line for a well-deserved bonus point, the conversion brought them to within 10 points.
We did have the final word and again the two wingers were involved with Hall making the initial break down the left before a well-timed offload to Jenkin who stepped inside two defenders to race in under the posts. Mark Lee converted and time was called.
Both sides had a few regulars missing which provided opportunities for others.
The unfortunate injury to fullback Josh Davey last week prevented him from making his 100th First XV appearance in this game and we certainly hope that his recovery is swift.
However, Freddie Blackburn switched from centre to fullback and put in a man of the match performance in what will be his last game for a while as he is off travelling.
James Dodge came into the starting lineup for his First XV league debut at scrum half after the withdrawal of Ed Brady and he proved a very able deputy.
Mark Lee controlled things at fly-half and kept the backs moving.
We did struggle in the scrum but the line-outs worked perfectly with Tom Mortimer, Josh Pearce and Matt Arnold all claiming a share of the spoils in that area.
With only five league games remaining, Sidmouth and Topsham at home and trips to North Petherton, Teignmouth and Truro none of which will be easy we will have our work cut out to catch Sidmouth but to get past them will require other teams to take points off them. Difficult but not impossible.
Cullompton Seconds 22 - Crediton Quins 29
These have been frustrating times for the Quins as this was only their second game in two months, not the best way to keep the momentum going and maintain our promotion challenge.
The added problem of player unavailability left numbers pretty low with a few players getting an opportunity in the First XV.
The trip to Cullompton would not be an easy one as the Firsts found out the previous week but there was a determination amongst the players not to repeat the performance against New Cross a few weeks ago.
We started strongly and we were awarded a penalty on five minutes and sensibly opted to put points on the board through the reliable boot of Tom Ronchetti.
Cullompton hit back and took the lead with an unconverted try as the game developed into an attritional battle with the scrums evenly contested although we did have the edge in the line-out which gave us a great platform to work from.
We began to exert pressure in the home “22” and Cully coughed up a number of penalties which led to a yellow card.
We regained the lead when centre Ethan Power ran a great line to score at the posts, Ronchetti converting.
Winger Bobby Saunders powered over.
Cully battled back and a converted try and a penalty to lead 17-15. Callum Yeandle and Ronchetti both added tries, Ronchetti converted both. Cullompton reduced the arrears with a try and spent the last five minutes battering away to get a try and hopefully level the score.
Our defence was superb and we eventually turned possession over and cleared our lines as the final whistle blew.
Considering the circumstances this was a tremendous performance, it is never easy to beat Cullompton especially on their own patch to come away for the second successive week with a win is very encouraging.
Exeter Engineers 55 - Crediton Thirds 10
Facing Exeter Engineers is always a big task for the Thirds but with the various unavailabilities creating something of a player shortage, the task seemed even more daunting.
Having arrived with just 15 players, two replacements managed to get there at half-time, we withstood the initial anticipated onslaught from the Engineers but their pace and flair in the backs gradually allowed them to build their score.
To be fair, we did disrupt their line-outs and certainly matched their scrum.
The backs defended really well but the constant attacks gradually wore us down. We did have our moments too and pressure late on in the game and Mike Jones crashed over for a try which Owen Cooper converted to add to his earlier penalty.
The Firsts and Seconds have a free weekend whilst the Thirds host South Molton Seconds. The Colts are looking for a fixture.