Crediton 27 - Wellington 14
THE opening game of the New Year and our first for a month saw the First XV overcome a tough and very competitive Wellington side who made life difficult for us as they always do. The overnight and early morning rain created some doubt as to whether the game would go ahead but fortunately the well timed appearance of the sun saw to it that we could get the game under way.
Both teams started well and were soon testing each other out in the opening exchanges of the game, with both defences holding firm.
The wet conditions were proving difficult for either side to get any momentum or phase play going, with errors from both sides and the first quarter produced nothing in the way of a score.
However, on 21 minutes the deadlock was broken when we were awarded a penalty which was kicked to the corner.
Having won the lineout, we set up a strong driving maul and No8 Ben Wonnacott was on-hand to touch down, the conversion attempt drifted wide.
Wonnacott was in the thick of the action a few minutes later with a strong run in mid field, with support from scrum half Ed Brady and then winger Josh Hall, the final pass found centre Ollie Down who went over for a try, skipper Ollie Avery-Wright added the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
The visitors refused to allow these two scores to phase them and they began to dominate possession and territory stretching our defence and for a while the defensive efforts held out.
However, Wellington produced a carbon copy of our first try with a penalty to the corner and a catch and drive try which was converted to leave the score 12-7 in our favour.
Shortly before the interval an indiscretion by lock Dan Lee saw him yellow carded for a 10-minute breather.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first although, despite a man short, we kept possession inside their “22” but were unable to make the breakthrough.
The pressure did eventually pay off though as we took a scrum against the head and some quick hands found centre Ollie Clark run a good line to create space and take the pass to score at the posts. OAW converted and at 19-7 we looked relatively comfortable.
Wellington were not done though and once again they came back at us and we were forced to defend for long periods and concede a few penalties in the process.
A strong driving maul took the visitors to the try line but it was deemed to have been brought down illegally and a penalty try was awarded, narrowing the gap to five points once again. Sensing a chance of victory Wellington threw everything at us and for a period, any thoughts of a bonus point try were put to one side as it looked as though we might be hanging on just to win.
However, a Wellington attack broke down and a fine break by Ollie Clark took play well into the visiting “22” and with Devon Hosegood up in support, his pass then found Ollie Down who forced his way over.
OAW missed the conversion but was successful with a penalty in the dying seconds for a 27-14 win.
Both sides overcame the slippery conditions to play some good rugby, and the bonus point was very welcome against a side who we have always known to be tough opponents. The game was played in a good spirit and was certainly a decent start to 2023.
Crediton Quins 10 - Cullompton Seconds 6
Two evenly match sides battled out a closely fought encounter and we edged it with a good performance especially in the first half.
Playing against the slope and the wind in the opening 40 minutes was where the platform for victory was laid.
Cullompton simply could not find a way to unlock such a tight defence and whilst they probably just about dominated territory in that first period, we probably came closer to scoring.
By half time, Cullompton only had three points on the board from a penalty for a high tackle midway through the half.
The second period did not always go as we might have expected indeed Cully spent plenty of time in our half and we were not finding it easy to get into their “22” as perhaps we might have thought.
However, from a scrum inside their “22”, skipper Chris Hooper picked up and after a couple of phases, it was scrum half Joe Dodge who darted down the blind side for a try in the corner.
The conversion proved a difficult one in the swirling wind so we had to be satisfied with a 5-3 lead.
The penalty count was beginning to mount for both sides and Cullompton regained the lead when we infringed in front of the posts. Both teams were given a warning by the referee as the penalties flowed and indeed both sides had a player yellow carded as the referee lost patience with the continual flow of penalties.
With time running out we had a five metre scrum which collapsed but the referee allowed an advantage and No8 Chris Hooper bundled his way over to complete the scoring.
Both sides deserve credit for the way in which they played in what were pretty slippery conditions. For the Crediton team, there was barely a time when they allowed Cullompton a sniff of the try line, a great performance all round.
Bideford Colts 17 - Crediton Colts 17
These two sides met for the third time this season, each winning once but neither winning the home game! For a time it looked as though the Crediton side would keep that record going as we held a 17-10 lead approaching the final few minutes.
Bideford however, found a way to level the scores with a late try and conversion.
Ben Baxter touched down twice and Brady May once with Tom Cooper adding a conversion.
On Saturday, January 14 the First XV entertain Newton Abbot in a league game whilst the Seconds travel to Exeter Athletic for a league game. In the Merit Table, Ilfracombe will be our visitors for the Third XV and Brixham Colts will travel here for a friendly.