North Petherton 24 - Crediton 34

CREDITON Rugby Club First XV returned to action after a week off with a trip across the border into Somerset on February 17, where North Petherton would be our hosts.

Trips to their Beggars Brook home have, of late, been a reasonably happy hunting ground for us and, despite a number of players not available, we certainly had high hopes of continuing our run of success.

With new signing Harry Strong completing his transfer from Taunton minutes before the transfer deadline, he made an immediate impact with a try before the game was three minutes old.

After the early pressure brought the reward of a penalty, the kick to the corner allowed us to set up a driving maul before releasing the ball to the backs where Strong forced his way over for the opening score.

Ollie Avery-Wright converted for a 7-0 lead. However, any joy was short lived as the hosts had a period of sustained pressure and on six minutes a converted try was scored to level things up.

Three minutes later, good line-out possession once again set the backs up and a good move was ended with Strong once again cutting back inside to score, the conversion missed its target.

Three minutes later and another score, this time a scrum on half way saw scrum half Ed Brady make a break down the blind side before offloading to Josh Hall who raced in for try number three which went unconverted but nonetheless a healthy 17-7 lead with only 12 minutes on the clock.

We were certainly in the ascendancy and the home side unable to pose any threats to our defence. We were now in search of the bonus point try and it came on 24 minutes and again from a line-out after a penalty was kicked to the corner.

Josh Pearce won clean ball and hooker Dan Yendell on the peel at the tail of the line-out fed Strong again and his line of running saw him through the defence for his hat-trick try, OAW landed the extras for a 24-7 lead.

Both sides were having difficulty in coming to terms with some of the decisions of the match official and certainly we seemed to incur his wrath and within the space of 10 minutes, we were reduced to 12 men as he produced three yellow cards in quick succession with what were considered to be somewhat debatable decisions.

The 12 remaining players refused to be bowed by the disruption and defended vigorously to deny the home side from adding to their score and we reached the interval with the 17 point lead.

At the start of the second half we were back to 13 players but it was our turn to face the wind and within two minutes of the second period, the lead had been reduced to 10 points when they eventually found some space to score their second converted try of the game. Back to a full compliment and an OAW penalty gave us a little more breathing space although this was matched when we were caught offside.

With nine minutes remaining, yet another yellow card was dished out, this time when a kick over the top bounced in our in goal area and both Josh Woodland and the North Petherton winger jumped for the ball in what appeared to be a fair contest.

The referee decided that the home player had been impeded and issued a yellow card to Woodland. To rub salt into that wound he then awarded a penalty try!

We were forced to see out the remaining minutes one man short and with a lead of only three points.

However, the players dug deep and kept possession setting up a series of phases before driving over the home line, flanker Will Crang got the final touch with OAW adding the extras. We then managed to see the game out and maintain pressure on Sidmouth at the top of the table.

It was certainly a frustrating game but despite the curious decisions the players maintained cool heads and refused to let these things disrupt their game.

It seemed we came off worse with most of the decisions and yet it was the home coaches and support whose behaviour and attitude towards the referee left much to be desired and it is probable best left at that.

The stop start season continues with yet another blank Saturday for the First XV.

Whilst we all appreciate that not all players are available every week, this season the break weekends have reached ridiculous proportions and will have reached five weekend breaks in 11 weeks. This does not help continuity, from my understanding the payers don’t want it and neither do the Clubs. By all means have some breaks but at least let us have a bit of common sense in how and when they are allocated.

Crediton Quins 84 - Newton Abbot Seconds 0

As the scoreline would suggest, this was a very one-sided affair in which the visitors had very little to offer other than pride and an enormous spirit and whilst they were completely outplayed for the entire game, they never let their heads drop and kept going to the end.

From the Quins perspective, this is a young side that is blessed with some real talent and whilst promotion may be beyond them this season, the future looks very promising indeed. I say may be beyond us but mathematically still possible.

We are currently 15 points behind Topsham with one game in hand and six left to play including the away game at Topsham. Even with six bonus point wins, we would still need another team to defeat Topsham.

That has only happened once this season, oddly enough by Torrington who have since withdrawn from the league and their results expunged. Consequently, that defeat no longer counts as do our two wins against Torrington. We therefore dropped 10 points whilst Topsham dropped none!

Anyway, back to the game, the forwards won most scrums and created a platform for some strong running backs and by the time the final whistle sounded we had scored 14 tries, roughly a try every six minutes. Newton were unable to match the physicality and pace of the Quins and were perhaps a bit unfortunate to catch a side who seem to have hit top form despite a number of blank weeks.

Ethan Power lived up to his name with some strong running for three tries and there were two apiece for Josh Atkinson, Macauley Jones and Cameron Vooght. 

Callum Yeandle, Josh Edwards, Joe Dodge, Chris Hooper and Tom Ronchetti each chipped in with a try with Ronchetti adding six conversions and James Dodge one.

Crediton Thirds 7 - Ilfracombe 22

As always, Ilfracombe brought a strong side with them and it is good for Devon rugby that they are gradually strengthening their player base, so much so that they are looking to return to the league structure next season.

That said, the Thirds once again gave a good account of themselves on a pitch that held up pretty well albeit a bit soggy in places but spirits were not dampened. Ilfracombe had a powerful pack which dominated the scrums and provided their strong running backs with opportunities to attack.

However, the Thirds defended extremely well and despite the almost constant pressure, restricted the visitors to four tries during the game.

Ethan Pearce, Jamie Crang, Henry Howard and Greg Phillips led the defensive action with some crunching tackles and the rest of the team followed suit. We had plenty of moments of good attacking play and at half-time we held a 7-5 lead after building pressure in the “Combe 22” and creating space for Henry Howard to score with Elliott White adding the extras.

In the second half we continued to play some good rugby and for long periods kept Ilfracombe penned in their own half with some excellent tactical kicks but they were not to be denied as they ran well out of defence to bag a couple of tries to lead 17-7. Injuries reduced us to 14 men although Ash Bradnock who was watching the game did manage to borrow some kit and came on for the last 20 minutes although the visitors did manage another score. 

The Thirds competed really well against a strong Ilfracombe side and came off the pitch with smiles on the faces having thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Crediton Colts 29 - Barnstaple Colts 24

The Colts enjoyed a ding dong battle with Barnstaple in a game in which the result was in doubt right to the final whistle.

With the advantage of the slope in the first half, we took an early lead with a couple of tries from Charlie Conner and George Baxter, one of which Baxter converted. However, Barum soon hit back and  and brought the scores level with two tries and a conversion. On the stroke of half-time, centre Charlie Gribble touched down and Baxter’s conversion gave us an interval lead of 19-12.

Playing against the slope in the second half, Conner extended our lead with his second try, again converted by Baxter.

Once again, Barnstaple hit back and an unconverted try brought them back to within nine points although Baxter then added a penalty for a 29-17 lead.

Barnstaple scored another seven pointer and for the final minutes we held out to complete a very good 29-24 victory. Two good evenly matched sides provided some rugby of real quality and they should be proud of their performances. Both Clubs can look forward to some talented players coming into the senior ranks over the next year or two.

On Saturday the Quins travel to Exeter Athletic for a rescheduled league fixture whilst the Colts host in form Sidmouth.

Paul Harris