Crediton 56 - Topsham 41

SPECTATORS watching from the sidelines for the Crediton RFC v Topsham First Team game on March 23 would probably have gone home with neck ache as play swung from end-to-end, rather like watching tennis on the centre court at Wimbledon.

Crediton get to the ball.  AQ 8717
Crediton get to the ball. AQ 8717 (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

Topsham had leapfrogged over us after the last round of matches, and were holding second place, whilst we had slipped to third and whilst the promotion spot had been decided, we are still keen to take back that second spot.

Crediton take the throw in.  AQ 8721
Crediton take the throw in. AQ 8721 (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

The game got off to an explosive start with the visitors receiving a yellow card in the first minute for a deliberate knock on, an issue which would haunt both sides as the game progressed.

The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and a perfect lineout set up a classic driving maul which ended with No 8 Ben Wonnacott crashing over.  Ollie Avery-Wright converted for a 7-0 lead.

Five minutes later and the loose ball from a Topsham knock on was pounced on by Harry Strong who broke clear before putting Avery-Wright clear to race in from 30 metres and again add the extras for a 14-0 lead.

Restored to 15 players, the visitors began to show why they have done so well this season with some clever back play taking play from side-to-side. Crediton took possession in the line out.  AQ 8723

Crediton took possession in the line out.  AQ 8723
Crediton took possession in the line out. AQ 8723 (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

When they were awarded a penalty for a high tackle, Topsham opted for a scrum and, with quick ball, sent it wide for a try in the corner.

The kick missed its mark.

Immediately from the restart, prop Phil Holmes managed to gain possession and fed scrum half James Dodge who outpaced the visiting defence to score, OAW once again improved on the five points.

Restarts had become something of a problem for both sides and this time it was Topsham who benefitted from our failure to secure possession as they gathered and raced away for a try in the corner which again went unconverted.

Topsham try to get the ball in the line out.  AQ 8746
Topsham try to get the ball in the line out. AQ 8746 (Alan Quick, Crediton Courier)

Five tries were made in the opening quarter with both sides trying to play an open brand of rugby and each looking dangerous when they had the ball.

The loss of two players to yellow cards in quick succession caused the inevitable disruption and within minutes the 11 point lead had evaporated and indeed we were a point behind.

Firstly a chip over the top of our defence was gathered and a try scored, the conversion closing the gap to four points.

Some ineffective defending allowed an easy passage through for another try which went unconverted but we were 21-22 down.

However, another seemingly dangerous looking attack by the visitors became a little too adventurous and a long miss pass was superbly read by Harry Strong whose timely interception and race to the line restored the lead with OAW once again converting to reach the interval 28-22 ahead.

Things got better early in the second half when we turned over possession and gained a penalty at the same time, however with the referee playing an advantage, full back Josh Hall broke clear to score, OAW again landed the two points. Topsham were not going to let the game go away from them and a penalty kicked to the corner led to a catch and drive try with the conversion bringing the score back to 35-29.

Hall was again involved with the next score with another break from deep although he was brought down short of the line, flanker Sam Westcott was on-hand to take the pass and score, OAW secured the extra two points for a 42-29 lead and the way things had been going, still did not look comfortable enough.

Sure enough, a break down the left aided by some weak tackling saw another try for Topsham in the corner, the conversion bringing the difference down to six points.

A penalty in midfield led to a kick to the corner and again the catch and drive was used to good effect with Will Crang touching down, OAW made it 49-36.

Topsham rallied again and produced another good handling move ending with a try in the corner but the conversion failed leaving us eight points ahead with time running out.

There was however time for one more try when another penalty was kicked to the corner and the catch and drive followed by an early release set up several phases before lock, Tom Mortimer came through at pace to touch down under the posts.

OAW maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot to round off a remarkable win and an equally remarkable game. Both sides simply wanted to play rugby and with 15 tries scored it was certainly value for money.

It was certainly a great way to end the home league programme.

With one league game remaining, the runners-up spot is still up for grabs, we are currently second on 84 points, Wadebridge third on 82 and Topsham fourth on 81.

Our final game is the toughest of the three, a trip to Truro on April 6. Wadebridge host Chard and Topsham host Cullompton. A win for us would ensure we hold on to second spot.

Topsham Seconds 17 - Crediton Quins 7

CREDITON RFC Quins needed a win to have any chance of taking the promotion spot from Topsham, and even then it would have meant other sides helping us out.

The game earlier in the season went the way of Topsham and to be fair they gave us a lesson in creating and taking chances.

Consequently, we were aware of the threats they would pose.

We began in good form with pressure on the Topsham defence which worked hard to keep us at bay.

Eventually, a knock-on handed possession to the home side with a scrum but the Quins forwards put in a great scrum and regained possession. However, Topsham gradually began to assert themselves but some superb Crediton defending prevented any score.

With half-time approaching, Topsham found some space out wide and scored in the corner, the conversion was good and at the interval they had a 7-0 lead.

Injuries caused considerable disruption in the second half with both Quins centres off injured and replaced by forwards.

Nonetheless, despite the constant pressure with the home side camped on our line, the continual pick and go’s were defended superbly and eventually, Topsham were forced wide again and eventually scored a second try in the corner, the conversion extending the lead to 14 points.

The Quins battled away gamely and were rewarded eight minutes from time when No8 Chris Hooper burst through a ruck and raced 20 metres to score at the posts, Josh Woodland who had moved to fly half, landed the conversion to get with a losing bonus point.

Unfortunately, that point was snatched away in the final minute when Topsham kicked a penalty to take the win 17-7.

It was a tough game and the Quins played with pride and commitment and were the first to congratulate Topsham on their win which ensured they gained promotion as champions.

The introduction of Second XV’s into the league structure has been a huge benefit with some very competitive teams and regular fixtures.

The standard has improved and the Quins have been one of the best sides in the league over the past couple of seasons, just missing out on promotion, maybe next season will be third time lucky. 

However, there are still important games to be played and on Easter Saturday they travel to Exeter Athletic for a rescheduled league game.

A victory would see them back into second place in the league.

On April 13 the Quins travel to Brixham Seconds in the semi-final of the Second XV Shield. Victory will see a home final against Topsham or Plymstock.

Topsham Colts 47 - Crediton Colts 38

HAVING finished the “league” stage of the Devon Colts Cup Competition in fourth place, which was a tremendous achievement, the Crediton Rugby Football Club Colts headed to Topsham (who finished fifth) for the knock out quarter-final.

The game was scheduled to be played at Blagdon, but a combination of rain and hail on the morning of the fixture left our pitch waterlogged so the game was switched to Topsham.

This would be the fourth meeting of the two sides, with the Kirton lads victorious in the previous three. However, on this occasion it was Topsham who came out on top and progressed to the semi-final while we were left disappointed.

On the day we never quite reached the level of performance seen throughout the season. In saying that we still scored 38 points, it was just that Topsham scored 47!

Charlie Gribble added to his impressive tally with another four tries, Tom Ayre picked up two and George Baxter added four conversions.

It wasn’t to be but this result will not define the season.  These lads have shown time and again that they are a force to be reckoned with and have done themselves and the club proud.  Sometimes they just need a bit more belief!

The competition fixtures are now completed for the Colts but on Sunday they entertaining Helston Colts in a friendly fixture.

Paul Harris