Sidmouth 17 - Crediton 14
THERE was little to choose between the two sides in this top of the table clash when Crediton RFC played at Sidmouth on Saturday, November 11.
The opening exchanges saw both sides probing and asking questions of the other but neither was able to take control.
Playing against the slope, the home side did take the lead on 13 minutes when they won their lineout inside Crediton’s half.
A deft cross field kick was gathered cleanly by the home winger who scored, the conversion giving them a 7-0 lead.
With their tails up and ably led by former Premiership player Shaun Malton, Sidmouth kept up the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty for an infringement at the breakdown.
The three points were safely harvested for a 10-0 interval lead.
It was then Crediton’s turn to play up the slope and the players knew they needed to score if they were to stay in the game.
Five minutes into the second period scrum-half Ed Brady made a superb break before offloading to winger Jack Arnott who cut a great angle and outpaced the home defence for a well deserved try, Ollie Avery-Wright converted and Crediton were back in contention.
Things got even better on the hour mark when Sidmouth were penalised in their own half and the decision to kick for position was rewarded when, having won the lineout, Ollie Avery-Wright put in a good crossfield kick which Arnott collected cleanly to race in for his second try of the game.
Sidmouth responded but Crediton defended well enough until they were reduced to 14 men when centre Ollie Clark was yellow carded, somewhat harshly for what was perceived to be a high tackle.
That decision spurred on the homesters and they eventually got the score that would ultimately win them the game, the conversion giving them a three point advantage.
Crediton did have an opportunity to level the scores but the difficult penalty attempt from Ollie Avery-Wright looked on target but unfortunately drifted wide.
The general feeling was that a draw would have been a fair result but to come away from Sidmouth with a losing bonus point is no bad thing.
Crediton were disrupted with a number of injuries, prop Lance Palmer came off with a shoulder injury, flanker Jake Clarke suffered a rib injury whilst centre Ollie Down broke his thumb so all told, Crediton did pretty well.
Despite the defeat, Crediton held on to second place in the league, level on points with Wadebridge who also lost somewhat surprisingly at Truro. Sidmouth are a further two points back but with a game in hand.
Crediton Quins 47 - Sidmouth Seconds 0
With the league season not quite at the halfway stage for the Quins, there is already a 17 point gap between the top two and Tiverton in third place. Topsham Seconds and the Quins both have 100 per cent records with maximum bonus points and only points difference separating the two sides.
Despite their lowly league position, Sidmouth Seconds provided strong opposition and the opening 30 minutes were evenly contested although the Quins did create opportunities, none were taken either through some good defending or giving away penalties, when in a good position.
Sidmouth for their part had plenty of possession but some strong defending kept them at bay.
As half-time approached and there was nothing to show on the scoreboard it looked as though the Quins would reach the break all square.
However, on 36 minutes, the deadlock was broken when flanker Josh Pearce forged his way to the line for Tom Ronchetti to convert for a 7-0 lead.
Within 90 seconds, the score had doubled when fullback Matty Dayment gathered a clearance kick on halfway and went all the way on a solo run with a fleetness of foot that would have looked good on that dancing show on TV, to score at the posts and give Ronchetti a simple conversion.
The Sidmouth scrum had struggled through the first half and by half-time was on the verge of being completely overwhelmed.
The opening period of the second half was played out in similar style as the first 40 minutes, both sides with plenty of attacking ideas but lacking penetration.
Sidmouth had made a change to their front row which settled their scrum and it then became a more even contest.
For 20 minutes the Quins toiled and apart from a couple of bright runs from winger Bobby Jenkin there was little to show for the Quins effort and whilst Crediton never looked in any danger of losing, the sought-after try bonus point was looking a distant dream.
With an hour gone, things changed quite dramatically and as is often the case a try came from nothing.
The Quins had possession from good ruck ball and a switch of direction saw lock forward, Josh Atkinson run a good angle to crash through to score. Ronchetti added the extras and the Quins were beginning to motor.
The bonus point try came when replacement back row forward, Brady May entered the fray and went through a couple of tackles to touch down. Ronchetti again improving the score.
By now the Quins were dominating territory and possession and it was not long before Atkinson scored his second of the afternoon as he touched down after a driving maul although the try was not improved on.
Bobby Jenkins’ perseverance eventually paid off when he came off his wing and created an extra back on the open side and dashed over for a well worked try, Joe Dodge added the extras as he did to the final try of the day from Chris Hooper, who managed to cross over with seconds remaining.
A very entertaining game in which Sidmouth competed well for two-thirds of it but the final quarter proved too much for them.
The forwards were impressive as they controlled the set piece and the backs always looked threatening and, had it not been for some over eagerness, a few more tries would have come the Quins way.
There were occasions particularly early in the second half when phase after phase close to the Sidmouth line was comfortably defended and the better option would have been to get the ball out wide where the backs were waiting patiently but perhaps that is being a bit “picky” when the Quins scored seven tries!
With a comfortable victory for Topsham the battle at the top is certainly hotting up and will come to a head on December 2 when the two sides meet.
That should be a cracking game but before that the Quins have a trip to Teignmouth on Saturday, November 18 and who are another side that cannot be underestimated.
Exmouth Thirds 14 - Crediton Thirds 30
The Thirds travelled to Exmouth for a Merit Table encounter against a traditionally strong side and turned in a great performance to come away with a win.
The first half saw some clever rugby from Owen Cooper whose tactical kicking kept the home side pinned in their own half for long periods.
Prop Wayne Reed bagged the first try when a long lineout throw he forced his way over, Cooper added the two points.
Centre, Tariq Sayers used his pace and strength to crash through a few tackles and score a second try which Cooper Converted once again.
The Cockles hit back and reduced the arrears shortly before the interval with a converted try.
Early second half pressure from Exmouth brought the score all square as they scored a second converted try.
A Cooper penalty put Crediton back in the lead and that was a signal for Exmouth to turn up the pressure.
The back three of Mike Jones, Ed Hebron and skipper Joe Crocker battled away with some great defending.
Flanker, Ben Baxter was in fine form too, leading the way and Crediton gradually got themselves an attacking platform.
Sayers was causing problems for Exmouth with his strong running and he eventually went through more tackles to score his second of the day and whilst Cooper missed with the conversion, he did add a second penalty for a 25-14 lead.
It was Baxter who deservedly claimed the bonus point try to complete the scoring.
Crediton Colts 34 - Barnstaple 18
The Colts finished the first phase of the Colts Cup in style with an excellent victory over Barnstaple to secure fourth place in what was the toughest group of all.
However, having had the advantage of the slope in the first half and reaching the interval with a slender 8-6 lead, it was anyone’s game and Barnstaple probably though they were favourites.
An early penalty put the North Devon side ahead but a Charlie Gribble try followed by a George Baxter penalty gave the Colts an 8-3 lead before Barum reduced the arrears to two points with a second penalty.
After the interval the Colts knew they would have to work hard to retain their lead and nerves were eased when Harvey Murfitt crossed for a 13-6 lead. Gribble then bagged a second try which Baxter improved on and that was followed by another from Charlie Conner and again Baxter added the extras.
Barum were not going to give up and they responded with an unconverted try before Sam Kibbey dotted down for Baxter to convert again.
Barnstaple did have the last word with a converted try.
On Saturday, November 18 the First XV will take on Teignmouth whilst the Seconds travel in the opposite direction to Teignmouth. The Colts host Brixham in a friendly fixture.
The First XV game doubles up as the Geoff Warne Memorial Cup.
Many readers and club members will remember Geoff as a player at the club in the late 1970s and a teacher at Queen Elizabeth’s School.
Geoff later coached at the club before moving to a teaching job at Teignmouth where he also coached the Teignmouth Club.
He also represented Devon on eight occasions.
The Memorial Trophy started last season and Crediton were the inaugural winners with a 41-19 victory at Bitton Park.