Crediton 24 - Cullompton 22
NEWLY promoted Cullompton had been showing some good form since their arrival in this league and we were well aware of the threats they would pose.
However, after five minutes, it looked as though we would mount a cricket score as we raced into a 14-point lead almost without a visiting player touching the ball other than for the restarts.
From the word go, we were on the attack and a high tackle gave us a penalty which was kicked to the corner.
The resulting catch and drive ended with hooker Dan Yendell touching down, Ollie Avery-Wright added the extras.
From the restart, we won the ball at the ruck and a smart kick from scrum half Ed Brady was superbly chased down by No8 Ben Wonnacott who shipped on to winger Josh Hall to cross for try number two and again OAW landed the conversion and the game was less than five minutes old.
Much to their credit, Cully refused to be fazed by these quick reverses and began to settle into the game.
Their forwards began to gain the upper hand in the scrum although perhaps their lineout was not quite so effective, due in part to the tower that is Tom Mortimer who stole quite a few as well as winning most of our own.
At the scrum, we seemed to incur the wrath of the Cornish match official and even at the breakdown we were being penalised, much to the frustration of the players.
Cullompton kept us under constant pressure for long periods and a number of penalties went their way. They either kicked for the corner or tried a quick tap and go.
However, our defence was outstanding and it was not until a yellow card was given to Chris Courtier, one for the team after a few penalties in “The Red Zone” (my how I hate that term!) that Cully got a score.
A penalty to the corner followed by a lineout which, whilst not going to plan, did eventually work in their favour, the loose ball picked up and through a few pairs of hands before centre Sean Strange went over, converted by fullback Josh Luxon.
With the mounting pressure, it was no surprise when they levelled the score when yet another penalty was conceded.
The kick to the corner followed by a catch and drive try for flanker Seth Findlay, Luxon adding the extras again and all square.
With the interval approaching we did find ourselves in an attacking position and after several phases, Cully were caught offside and OAW popped over the resulting penalty to give us a bit of breathing space and reach half-time with a three-point advantage.
It was clear that we needed to address some issues that were obviously getting us on the wrong side of the referee (although at times he seemed to succumb to some vociferous appealing from certain visiting players!).
The second half was a very attritional affair with both sides doing their best to play some rugby.
Defences were dominant although the visitors tended to dominate possession without making any real breakthrough.
For our part, we struggled to get hands on the ball for long periods and when we did, we were deemed to have infringed, frustrating for players and spectators alike.
However, the game had reached something of a stalemate with defences very much on top.
The deadlock was broken on 65 minutes when after several phases, we were awarded a penalty which was kicked to the corner.
The driving maul by the forwards received some valuable assistance from some of the backs and it was replacement centre Mark Lee who bagged the try, OAW converted for a 10-point lead.
Within two minutes that lead was cut to seven when another penalty went against us and which Luxon put away with ease.
The final 10 minutes saw Cully press whilst we defended superbly although a flurry of penalties helped the visitors keep the momentum going. Somehow, we found ourselves in the 49th minute of the second half and Cullompton got the try they needed when centre Ben Leggott broke a couple of tackles to score and all that was required was the conversion to take a draw from the game.
It was a kick that the visiting fullback would probably kick eight out of 10 times but unfortunately for him and the Cullompton team, it drifted wide to give us a 24-22 victory.
Cullompton will probably wonder why they did not at least get a draw having dominated possession and territory for long periods and I suspect there would have been few complaints from the home support had the last conversion been successful and the game drawn.
Whatever the problems were so far as the penalty count was concerned, well we never got to the bottom of it. All three Cully tries came from penalties that we conceded, no doubt there will be debates at training in the hope of putting things right next time out.
Torrington 7 - Crediton Quins 64
Last season at Torrington the home side made life very difficult for us and the expectation was that this game would be no different.
Having got off the mark rather slowly at New Cross last week, the pre match talk was about being alert from the first whistle to the last.
However, it seems that the home side overheard the chat as it was they who started with a bang and we were 0-7 down after five minutes, our minds seemingly still in the changing rooms!
Fortunately, someone flicked the switch and things began to click into place and we settled into our routine and tries began to come at regular intervals. Some of the scores would have graced a higher level with both backs and forwards combining superbly.
Torrington struggled to cope with our attacking style but in fairness, they never gave up the chase.
In total, 10 tries were scored although it should have been 11 but for the unfortunate circumstance surrounding Josh Atkinson who, after a great passage of play went through under the posts.
Instead of grounding the ball, he handed it to a Torrington defender for a goal line drop out. It seems that he thought everyone had stopped playing and that presumably the whistle had blown! Fortunately, it did not matter and we ended with a comfortable win.
It was an excellent performance which was ideal preparation for tougher games that will come, starting with Cullompton Seconds at home on Saturday. Special mention for prop Charlie Clark on his Second XV debut having come through from the Colts and starting the season with a foot injury.
The return of Matt Arnold after his sojourn in Canada is another bonus. Everyone from one to 20 put in a good performance with back rower Josh Pearce leading the scoring with three tries, winger Bobby Jenkin chipped in with two and there was one apiece for Josh Goldman, Tom Rochetti, Josh Atkinson, Matt Pearce and Chris Hooper. Tom Ronchetti landed 7 conversions.
Crediton Thirds 29 - Topsham Thirds 24
It is good to see the development of another Third XV in the County with Topsham added to the small list. Hopefully, with more friendly fixtures they will be in a position to put a side out each week.
It was the Crediton Thirds who started brightly when centre Tariq Sayers broke through before offloading to flanker Callum Yeandle who went over in the corner.
Ten minutes later and Topsham were caught again with a similar move for Yeandle to grab his second for a 10-0 lead.
The visitors hit back with a converted try and the remainder of the first half was evenly contested and we held that three-point advantage until the interval.
The second half saw a number of changes made as we had a large squad of players although it did not disrupt the team. Tries for both sides were scored at regular intervals.
Tom O’Donnell forced his way over after a real team try with the ball going through several pairs of hands. Fly half Aiden White scored out wide and prop Wayne Reed crashed over in typical Reed fashion. White converted two.
This game was played in the true spirit of rugby, Topsham had arrived a couple of players short but the Crediton players took in turns to play for them ensuring parity of numbers on the pitch.
Thanks also to Paul Comer who has not refereed for about eight years but due to the shortage of referees available at the moment, he manfully stood in thus ensuring that 37 players had a game of rugby.
Devonport Colts 7 - Crediton Colts 64
Whilst the scoreline was identical to that of the Seconds at Torrington, the result will be recorded as 7-57 due to the regulation whereby the game stops when there is a 50-point difference.
Both sides struggled for numbers this week and the home side only had 13. The game was played as 13-a-side and the Crediton lads ran out comfortable winners.
On Saturday, the Firsts travel to a seemingly revitalised Newton Abbot, the Quins host Cullompton Seconds, the Thirds travel to Barnstaple and the Colts are at Ivybridge.
On Sunday, October 22, the Ladies host Newton Abbot.