Crediton Rugby Football Club
Another highlight of the close season was the Annual Alan Gilbert Memorial Golf Trophy held at Waterbridge by kind permission of Gary Wren and his good lady.
Players assembled at 0930 to enjoy an excellent Bacon Butty, although some arrived even earlier to take in a full English Breakfast and then get some practice on their swing or a bit of putting. My how that practice was needed but in most cases did absolutely no good whatsoever.
The 1030 start saw each of the nine tees occupied by the feverishly keen groups of four or five and the first tee shots were struck simultaneously in a manner which would have impressed the judges at a syncronised swimming competition. Sadly, the balls flew in so many different directions and the shouts of ‘fore’ were heard in such unison that would have delighted the local choirmaster.
As each disappointed competitor walked off at a tangent to the fairway, well, the fairway that they should have been on, it became apparent that golf was not really a social sport. The playing partners of each group would of course meet for a chat on the tee, then disappear into the distance in opposite directions before eventually meeting up for a reunion on the green. The reports that two players are still missing have been wildly exaggerated.
As the contest wore on, some players improved whilst others, unbelievably got worse but gradually a pattern emerged and the breakaway group at the top of the leaderboard began to take a grip on the competition.
The par 3 third hole offered the chance of a prize for the nearest tee shot to the pin and at one stage, firstly Richard Daw (8m 72cm) and then Eddie Trick (8m 10cm) looked to be the best - regrettably they were both playing the 2nd hole at the time and their shots did not count. The water surrounding the green took its toll and so many balls were dispatched into the lake that the water rose by nearly three feet.
The fourth hole gave yet another opportunity for an additional prize, this time for the longest drive. Richard Kibby laid claim to this one immediately by making the point that as everyone else had come out from Crediton whilst he had driven from Tedburn, he should automatically be declared the winner. Of course it was eventually explained to him that this was not how the system worked.
The pressure began to mount on the three players who led the competition, Eddie Trick, Martin Gilbert and Peter Orasnjak. The stakes were high as each one pursued the ultimate and most coveted trophy in golf and the desire to adorn the magnificent Blue Blazer drove them on and on and on and on..............whilst the rest of us simply hacked our way around the course.
Divots abounded with such ferocity that the sky darkened with each swing of the club so much so that memories of the Somme flooded back to those who could remember being there like Club President Bill Wadsworth and his playing partner Keith Phillips.
When each group had completed their 18 holes, a refreshing pint was being enjoyed at the clubhouse when suddenly it came to light that the competiton was not yet over. The tension was to mount even further as we had a three way tie for first place and yes, those three musketeers who had led from the front had all completed their rounds with 29 points - time for a play off.
It was decided to play a short shot to the 9th hole and the nearest the pin would be declared the winner. Eddie Trick was the first to go but sadly he had been put off by an earlier telephone call from Tiger Woods who was seeking advice in his effort to win the Open at Sandwich. Eddie duly obliged but in his excitement got somewhat confused by the request and suggested that Woods went to Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s and get a filled baguette which were apparently much better value than an open sandwich.
Anyway, back to the pulsating climax the like of which none of the male competitors had enjoyed for years. Edwards shot was quite frankly abysmal as he overshot the green and saw his ball disappear into a hedge, his chance for victory going with it.
Martin Gilbert allowed his nerves to get the better of him and his chip hardly went any further than the end of his nose and he sensed that victory would elude him this year. And so the Peter ‘O’ victory would be his if he could just produce an average shot - well that should not have been difficult as he had been doing that all afternoon. As he steadied himself, a shuffle of the feet, swivel of the hips back went the club head and a gentle swing and follow through - oops - and his shot trickled through to take the trophy by inches. Nearest the flag? - one did not hit the green and the other two barely made it either but there had to be a winner and Peter Orasnjak made it for the third time.
So why do players put themselves through this agonising mental torture well the answer is quite simple...........for charity.
Over £220 was raised for FORCE and the Rugby Club would like to thank those who sponsored the event, Waterbridge Golf Course, John Daw, Terry Banbury, John Saunders, Phil Hand, Martin Gilbert and Bernie Blatchford.
Thanks also to those who organised the event so well, Terry Banbury, John Saunders, Peter Orasnjak and Martin Gilbert.
Just for information the winners were; Overall Peter Orasnjak
Runners Up Martin Gilbert
Nearest Pin Phil Conibear
Longest Drive Chris Kibby
See you all next year
THE PRIZE WINNERS
Prize winners; L to r; Peter Orasnjak, Richard Kibby (receiving trophy on behalf of winner Chris Kibby), Martin Gilbert, Sam Andrews (best young player), Phil Conibear, Eddie Trick (with his balls in his hand).
It is never easy to assess the Clubs’ prospects with only five weeks and three league games of the season gone. However, it cannot be argued that over all four senior sides, it has been the leanest September since 1996, having recorded only four wins from a total of seventeen games, three of those coming on the first day of the season.
It has to be said that there are mitigating circumstances but it would be all too easy to make injuries and unavailabilities the excuse. At our level, we should have a bit more strength in depth than we currently enjoy. There is no doubt that this league gets tougher each year but time and again over the past two seasons we have proved that we have the ability to compete.
The pre-season was disrupted when scheduled opponents for our first trial game pulled out. There followed a fixture against Plymouth Albion 2nd XV and, with their agreement, we used the game as a trial and used all 30 players who turned up. This of course inevitably worked to our disadvantage, despite fresh legs coming on, the disruption caused prevented much in the way of continuity. That said, we did play well in patches and only lost 10-14. Veteran flanker Richard Daw grabbing a try with a conversion from Ian Gillard and a penalty from Tom Vercoe.
Our first league game was then called off as scheduled opponents, newly promoted Coney Hill, had a Cup fixture. So the trip to Thornbury the following week meant that we went into our first competitive fixture in mid-September, by which time most sides had played at least three or four games. Thornbury had also been promoted by way of the play-offs and on the day proved to be the better side winning 30-11. It was a disappointing way to open the season and our inability to get the ball out wide cost us dearly. Andy Bluff scored an opportunist try from 22 metres and Ian Gillard slotted over a couple of penalties.
The following week in the Powergen Intermediate Cup the trip to Devonport Services proved a nightmare. Although having the edge up front, our second half performance was well below par and to lose heavily (8-34) to a side playing one level below us was indeed disappointing. True, Devonport have had the benefit of recruiting a number of players from Plymouth Albion, but we should still be winning games like these. A Jay Harris try and Ian Gillard penalty was scant reward.
Against Brixham, our first home league game, sponsored by The Mitre, again we flattered only to deceive. The first ten minutes saw us all over the Fishermen and scored a cracking try through Ian Gillard after only four minutes. We continued to take the game to them but, gradually, Brixham found their legs and began to exert some authority on the game. At the interval, despite being behing 11-18, we were very much in contention but any hopes of victory were dashed through a combination of yellow cards and injuries. The visitors eventually ran us ragged late in the game but the 49-16 scoreline flattered them. Chris Crow scored a try and Ian Gillard two penalties.
Kirton’s misery continued with a fourth succesive defeat, all of which have been by 30 points or more. As against Brixham the previous week, Crediton began brightly and were perhaps unfortunate not to have taken an early lead but possession lost in contact gave the hosts a chance to clear their lines. As Penryn put a couple of attacks together, Crediton were caught offside and the home scrum half Strick slotted over a simple penalty. The lead was increased when flanker James Mann strolled in almost unopposed from a line out and Strick added the extras. The Crediton pack fought hard to get the side back into the game and a couple of turnovers looked promising but the home defence held firm.
Crediton were then dealt a bitter blow when for the second week in a row, a try was scored against them from a lineout where the validity of a quick throw had to be questioned, the ball having rebounded into play off the grandstand. As the pack settled for a straightforward throw, Penryn decided on the quick option some 10 metres further away and scored a try in the corner, again from James Mann and again Strick added the extras from wide out. At 0-17, Crediton looked to be out of it although, shortly before half time, they did grab a try after a slick inside pass from fly half Ian Gillard found skipper and No8 Jay Harris who raced in from 15 metres, Gillard added the extras.
The early second half belonged to Crediton as they piled on the pressure forcing Penryn into a few errors bringing a couple of kickable penalty opportunities, sadly both were narrowly wide of the upright. For some ten minutes, it was all Crediton and some excellent recycling brought deserved reward when centre Morne Scheepers crashed over to bring the gap down to five points.
The powerful Penryn backs whose pace and strength proved the difference between the two sides, began to create opportunities and winger Chris Mann came inside to receive a pass and the gap just opened for him to score at the posts, Strick again converted. This was followed shortly afterwards when the same player scored out wide and Strick once more popped over the conversion.
Crediton rallied once more and picked themselves up to create an opportunity for new signing Simon Lockley to go over but again the conversion was missed. The final word went to Chris Mann who completed his hat-trick with a try out wide and again the immaculate boot of Martin Strick completed the scoring.
Over all, whilst it was disappointing to have lost so heavily, there were a number of positives to take from the game. The players showed considerably more passion, commitment and endeavor as they tried to keep pace with the Penryn threequarters and to have scored three tries ourselves was also an improvement. The pack played particularly well and stole three strikes against the head and on one occasion drove the home pack backwards some 10-15 metres off their own ball.
It is genuinely felt that once the list of injuries gets significantly shorter, then we shall turn the corner and put some good results together.
It is to be hoped that the players will have at least learned something in defeat but among some of the lessons that need to be driven home are firstly that when we run at defences, we should be looking to create and exploit gaps rather than look for contact - that is too easy to defend against and becomes predictable. Secondly, the importance of ball retension in the contact situation, OK so it sounds easy but we must be looking to keep the ball alive and give the wingers a crack off second and third phase ball. Thirdly, none of these apparent problems can be put right from Saturday to Saturday, it means a lot of hard work at mid week training sessions. Whilst most of the 1st XV have trained regularly and twice a week, there are a number of players throughout the Club who it seems find it too easy to miss sessions. The effort being put in by Keith Fleming is impossible to quantify and he certainly deserves more support.
The Quins, after a victory away at Tiverton in their opening game (28-3) have since suffered a run of three defeats, at home to Ivybridge (12-15), at home to Sidmouth (5-20) and away at Brixham (12-27). Naturally, the 2nd XV will always suffer when injuries and unavailabilities affect the 1st’s but, despite the run of losses, what has been encouraging has been the introduction of some Colts into the side. Nick King is a prime example of a player who has the ability to make his mark in senior rugby and in his first year after Colts will I am sure be a regular in the Quins and pushing hard for a chance in the 1st XV. The policy certainly for the foreseeable future will be to ‘blood’ some of the current Colts in the 2nd and 3rd XV’s when the Colts are not involved in Merit Table fixtures. Nathan Reddick, Stuart Pickard and Bradley Baker are three players who have already proved more than capable of playing senior rugby and are bright prospects for the future.
The Quins had another disappointing result at Okehampton, going dow 5-20. The Okes fielded a very experienced side which had a little too much ‘nous’ for the youngish Kirton side. Captain Martin Gilbert grabbed the Crediton try.
Once again, the Hornets were unable to raise a side to travel to Plymouth to play OPM
but hopefully things will improve in the not too distant future.
The Colts struggled to find any rhythm against a strong Barnstaple side and went down 0-34.
Crediton 19 v Coney Hill 22
The nightmare at Blagdon continued with a fifth consecutive league defeat for Crediton. It left the Mid Devon side wondering just what they ahve to do to gain their first league points of the season.
As in the previous week against Berry Hill, the match was most definately winnable against opponents that certainly on the day did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary. However, playing ‘catch-up’ rugby from perhaps 10 points down is not beyond any team but to allow the visitors a 19 point advantage before realising the game had actually got under way left too much work for the latter stages. In fairness, we got very close due to a decent second half performance. Sadly however, the length of the injury list was increased further, hooker Shane Bayley and lock Alan Westcott being the lates casualties which will be of enormous concern to selectors.
Coney Hill began the game as if to prove that their defeat at Exmouth the previous week was a mere simple malfunction and their threes looked dangerous whenever they had the ball in hand. That, complemented by some rank bad defence in the first half an hour, allowed them to gain a three score advantage. Scrum half and skipper Leon Liggett led the way with two tries which could easily have been prevented and when
centre Rob Cooke added a third, at was becoming almost embarrassing. Fly half Ryan Barnett converted two. Worse was to come when Crediton fly half Morne Scheepers was harshly sin-binned for a typically tough South African style tackle which the match official decided was illegal. Nonetheless, it seemed to be a wakeup call for the home side and the Crediton pack began to make life difficult for the visiting eight. After a period of pressure during which time Crediton seemed to have a perfectly good try disallowed, the referee being on the wrong side of a driving maul close to the Coney Hill line, the arreares were eventually reduced when from a 5 metre scrum, Crediton No9 John Leyman slipped a neat pass inside to inspirational skipper and No8 Jay Harris who forced his way over to touch down. The difficult conversion attempt from Ian Gillard drifted wide.
The second half saw a complete transformation and the home side took the game to Coney Hill and began to carve some holes in what had been an otherwise resilient defence and it was not long before centre Mark Gulley benefitted from some quickly rucked ball to crash over at the posts for Ian Gillard to add the extras and reduce the arrears to 7 points.
Coney Hill though always looked dangerous on the break and soon increased their advantage to ten points when Crediton were caught offside on their own ‘22’, Barnett made no mistake from directly in front of the posts.
Still sensing the possibility of a victory, Crediton fought back strongly and twice fullback Simon Lockley came into the line at pace to create an overlap but unfortunately was unable to get the ball away. Eventually though from a fairly inocuous looking maul on half way, the almost redundant winger Andrew Murray gained possession and outstripped the Coney Hill defence to score at the posts. Ian Gillard’s conversion reduced the deficit to three points. It was however enough of a lead for the visitors to cling on to.
The Quins game was cancelled and the Hornets won 38-0 against Bideford. Colt Nathan Reddick grabbed a hat-trick of tries and there was one apiece for Walter Andrews, Peter Vallance and Simon Saunders. Ant Evans converted four.
25th October 2003
Crediton 13 v Hornets 27
The game started well for Crediton and it looked as though we might have turned the corner. However, success was short lived and once again the side contrived to allow the visitors into the game and worse, hand them victory in the final quarter.
Tom Vercoe back from a six week lay off with a shoulder injury, proved just how much he is missed when he came into the line at pace after Crediton had won a scrum 10 metres out. A slick interchange between No8 Jay Harris and scrum half John Leyman created the space for Vercoe to dash through and score. The conversion from Ian Gillard was successful to open up a seven point lead. Up to then, we had enjoyed much the better of the game and certainly looked the likely winners.
Hornets though responded and brought the scores level late in the first half and despite a couple of Gillard penalties, it was the visitors who finished the stronger, capitalising on some basic defensive errors and eventually running out comfortable winners.
Sadly though, after one game back, Vercoe suffered a recurrence of his injury and is likely to be out for some time once again.
1st November 2003
Taunton 35 v Crediton 13
The trip to Taunton was very much a basement battle, victory would bring us to within two points of the hosts whereas defeat would leave us languishing six points behind. More enforced changes did not help matters and to be honest we were never really in the game. Once again though, some slipshod defending and unforced errors contributed significantly to our downfall. A Graham Carter try with a conversion and two penalties from Andy Pennington on his 1st XV debut, were but mere consolation for a lot of effort but little else.
There will no doubt be brighter times ahead particularly when players return from injury. With the likes of Tom Vercoe, Shane Bayley, Alan Westcott, Andy Bluff, Richard Appleyard, Mark Gulley, Chris Crow to name but a few all due to return at sometime, plus new recruits such as Simon Rolfs, Sam Pascoe, Phil Pamphilon and Joe Cooke to come into the reckoning, we will still be in a position to give sides a fright as the season progresses.
No doubt we have been written off by many of our opponents in the league but they will do well not to underestimate Crediton - our time will come.
The Quins have also been suffering as a result of injuries and successive defeats at Newton Abbot (15-29) and Taunton (7-31) will have done little to boost confidence.
However, the Colts have managed a couple of victories, against Newton Abbot at home (35-0) and Bridgwater at home (17-0) and they have already won as many games as they had in total last season.
8th November 2003
Crediton 26 v Stroud 31
In what was undoubtedly our best performance of the season to date, defeat came as a huge disappointment to players and spectators alike. Stroud have been going pretty well this season and will inevitably be in the promotion hunt when the league campaign concludes, all of which made this a bitter sweet pill to swallow. When you are down, life has a habit of continually kicking you in the teeth and this game was no exception to that rule other than the fact that on this occasion the kick (or want of it) was applied by ourselves. Having led the game at the interval 19-10, Stroud exerted considerable pressure and we were unable to get our hands on the ball. The defence held firm even when reduced to 14 after prop Chris Kibbey was sin-binned. When eventually we did get the ball and a chance to clear our lines, the ball was spread wide from only five metres or so out. The long pass never found its target resulting in a scrum for the visitors from which they scored, the seven point haul brought them back into the game and en-route for victory.
The early exchanges of the game saw Stroud’s Adam Seager and Crediton’s Andrew Pennington (in his home league debut) exchange penalties.
The visitors applied all the early pressure but never seriously threatened our line and once we had weathered the early storm and got ourselves into the game, it was not long before we took the lead. A well won line out deep in the Stroud half was the signal for the ball to be spun wide out to the left and after some intelligent handling, flanker Ben Blackburn found the gap to score. Pennington’s conversion attempt drifted wide. Within minutes, the lead was extended when centre Ian Gillard timed his interception perfectly and raced away before putting Pennington in for a try in the left corner. Again though the conversion drifted wide.
The response from Stroud was swift and deadly when from a Crediton 22 metre drop out, they gained possession and lock forward Rob Davey drove to the line to score, Seager adding the extras. With the game going from end to end, Crediton increased their advantage with two Pennington penalties (try saying that quickly!). The second of which brought a yellow card for Stroud’s Steve Thompson whose words of wisdom for the referee were not appreciated.
The second half saw an early ten minute breather for Kibbey brought about by apparent persistent infringing. It was not until his return that the visitors took advantage of our error of judgement. Shortly afterwards, the Stroud flanker Adam Tarplee gained possession from another five metre scrum and went over with Seager again adding the extra two points to give them a five point advantage.
This was extended when another scrum close to the Crediton line was not well defended and eventually visiting hooker Rupert Wakefield scored and Seager maintained his 100% record with the conversion.
Stunned into action, Crediton began to play as they had done earlier in the game and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions and finally, the pressure told when, after some excellent rucking and recycling of the ball, fly half Morne Scheepers crashed over at the posts for Pennington to add the conversion. With only minutes remaining and merely a score behind, Crediton tried in vain to breach the Stroud defence one last time but it was not to be.
There were encouraging performances, notably Andy Murray in his new position at fullback where he made some telling tackles, the position also enables him to attack from depth. New signing Simon Rolfs in the centre looks the part and had a very encouraging debut. Andy Pennington took over the kicking duties and did extremely well in difficult conditions.
Crediton Quins 5 v Devonport services II 26
A Paul Currey try was the Quins’ only reward against a strong Devonport side. Fortunately for Crediton though the game was brought to a halt prematurely when the referee suffered a leg injury.
Wellington III 20 v Crediton III 12
Third XV games against Wellington have, by tradition, always been competitive and this encounter was no exception. In a most entertaining match, it was the home side who came out on top. Two tries from new recruit Oliver Sugden and a conversion from the ever reliable boot of Ant Evans produced the Hornets 12 points.
Crediton Colts 6 v Devonport Services Colts 12
Services have a powerful Colts XV and for the Crediton side to only lose narrowly was a very encouraging performance. Gareth Kinch landed a couple of penalties.
15th November 2003
Crediton II 34 v Withycombe II 10
It was the Crediton forwards who provided the platform for this comprehensive victory over Withycombe. The damage was done during an inspired first half when the Withycombe eight spent so much time going backwards it seemed likely that they would drive back to Exmouth in reverse gear simply through habit.
The tries were evenly shared between backs and forwards with fullback Simon Grainger showing glimpses of his best form grabbing one, new recruit Joe Willcocks showed potential and some pace when he outstripped the Withey’s defence for a try and, not to be outdone, Jeff James on the other wing also raced in for one.
Martin Ash, having returned from completing the Washington marathon, still found enough in his legs to sneak a try and No8 Steve Saunders enjoyed a pushover try. Lock Lee McKie recently back from injury scored the only Kirton try of the second half.
Colts Stuart Pickard had an assured game at fly half and landed two conversions.
The only disappointment was that we eased off a bit in the second half and, whilst there was never any fear of Withycombe getting anywhere near, they did manage a deserved try and conversion to take the second half honours.
Cullompton II 50 v Crediton III 0
Disappointed but enjoyed the game was the reaction from the Hornets despite a fair drubbing at Cullompton.
22nd November 2003
Exmouth 10 v Crediton 18
As if watching 100 minutes of heart stopping rugby in the RWC final in the morning was not enough, Crediton supporters were forced to endure another eighty minutes of the same some five hours later at Exmouth and, equally importantly with a similar outcome.
It appears that it was the Crediton team which drew their inspiration from the England victory as they held on to an early lead, withstanding a late ferocious onslaught from their hosts at the Imperial Ground.
In somewhat muddy conditions, it was Exmouth who applied early pressure but the Crediton defence was in no mood to surrender. As the ‘Cockles’ attempted their normal catch and drive tactic from lineouts, it was the Crediton pack which drove them back. In the set scrum, again it was Crediton who held a distinct advantage as they shoved the Exmouth eight around the park for most of the afternoon. The two strikes against the head plus an additional few turnovers was made all the more remarkable as Crediton played with an experimental front row which included vice captain Eddie Yeandle at tight head, a position he last played as a junior some twelve years ago.
From the outset, the Exmouth attacks floundered against some solid defending and unforced errors crept into their play. Having withstood early pressure, Crediton took the lead with an Andrew Pennington penalty which gave the side some confidence to put a few attacks together. From a lineout some 15 metres out, Crediton employed the traditional Exmouth catch and drive tactic and managed it successfully with lock Alan Westcott getting the touch down, Pennington popped over the conversion from wide out to give a 10-0 interval lead.
Within minutes, the game could well have been put beyond doubt as once again, Exmouth fluffed a promiosing attacking position and Crediton centre Simon Rolfs pounced on a loose ball on the 22 and raced away before shipping on to Pennington who took play into the Exmouth 22. With the cover coming across, the wingers’ chip through was just too strong and the homesters cleared the danger.
The second half saw the home side put their game together and it seemed as though their handling errors had been put behind them and from a scrum on the Crediton 22, they found an overlap which allowed winger Dean Chisling to score in the corner. With twenty minutes remaining, a rare foray into the Exmouth half brought a penalty which Pennington put just wide. However, the ball was knocked on in goal and Crediton were awarded a scrum. The dissent from the Exmouth side was not appreciated by ‘no nonsense’ referee Scott Reynolds and the decision was changed to a penalty and this time, Pennington made no mistake.
With Exmouth now throwing everything into a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game, it came as no surprise when, from a clever back row move, winger Lawrence Giles went over to reduce the deficit to three points. This was followed soon after by a wonderful opportunity to draw level as Exmouth were awarded a penalty when the Crediton backs were caught offside. Fly half Neil Hooper put a relatively straightforward kick wide of the mark.
With time running out, it was Crediton who made certain of victory with another catch and drive try from a lineout on the Exmouth 22 the power of the Crediton rolling maul proved too much for the home side and hooker Shane Bayley got the try which ultimately sealed the first victory of the season.
After a run of eight successive league defeats, victory had to come sooner or later and this one was effectively a four pointer. Defeat would have put us six points adrift at the foot of the table but the win has narrowed the gap to two. This came despite the loss of three of the side originally selected who pulled out through either injury or illness. Those who filled the breach did their individual causes no harm at all as fullback Simon Grainger produced a solid display, flanker Martin Ash was just about everywhere and took some excellent lineout ball. Prop Richard Gould made a major contribution in the front row. Replacement prop Sam Pascoe, although only getting ten minutes as a blood replacement, also showed his ability and is without doubt a useful addition to the Club’s playing strength.
A depleted Quins side put up a great show and only lost 6-12 at home against Exmouth II’s. Two Shaun Davey penalties were the reward for a solid all round display.
An even further depleted Hornets side honoured the fixture at Exmouth, who very kindly loaned a couple of players but it was the home 3rd XV who ran out comfortable winners 61-0.
The Colts were made to work extremely hard at Tavistock before coming out on top 7-0.
6th December 2003
Gloucester Old Boys 18 v Crediton 13
There is a somewhat over-used phrase that league tables do not lie and whilst to a certain extent this is probably true, this particular encounter proved that they certainly can be misleading. Gloucester Old Boys is seldom a happy hunting ground for any visiting side but the Crediton performance was worthy of at least a share of the spoils. The fact that we concede three tries is neither here nor there, each one would have to be considered at least questionable.
There is no doubting the prowess of the Old Boys pack although they never dominated the scrums, they had the edge in the maul which they used to good effect especially early on when the sheer size of the number eight allowed him to break the gain line as one or two Kirton players found to their cost as they bounced off him. Once the lesson had been learned, his effectiveness was marginally reduced as the tackles went in much lower.
As Crediton had won the toss for almost the first time this season, they wisely elected to play up the slope in the first period realising that damage limitation might well be the order of the day. After missing an early penalty as Crediton were caught offside, the Old Boys decided that the catch and drive tactic from the line out would be their most effective tool. Crediton though defended these without too much difficulty although on one occasion the method of defending was deemed illegal as the home side drove for the line. The resulting tap penalty took the form of what a number of observers considered to be the now outlawed ‘flying wedge’ and from which came the first try for lock Nick Cuthbert, the conversion was missed.
Almost immediately, Crediton responded with an excellent handling move which took them almost to the home ‘22’ and as the home side piled in over the top at the ensuing ruck, the penalty was awarded. Some back chat brought the kick 10 metres nearer to the posts and fly half Morne Scheepers reduced the deficit with a simple kick.
The Old Boys seemed to have difficulty in coming to terms with a number of refereeing decisions and on several occasions were penalised for not binding properly in the scrum and also at the ruck. Once again, some unwise words to the official made a penalty much easier to kick and Scheepers put Crediton ahead by a single point. At this point, the home side were losing the plot somewhat and two further penalty opportunities came the way of the Crediton side but strangely we opted for the kick to the corner for a line out on both occasions when really a pop at goal would have been the better option, for two reasons, firstly they were well within kicking range and secondly, our lineouts at this stage had not been functioning particularly well. In the event, on both occasions the opportunities were lost.
Having concede the advantage of the slope for the first period, Crediton, through some excellent defending, had kept their hosts at bay and apart from the solitary try, they seldom looked like adding to their score and at half time it was Crediton who were on the ascendancy and were deserving of the one point advantage.
The early exchanges in the second half provided Crediton with a chance to increase the lead to four points but Scheepers’ long range effort was fractionally wide. With the slope in their favour, Crediton began to run at the home defence and created a superb opportunity with a two on one overlap on the right but unfortunately, the chance went when the ball was spilled.
The Old Boys had certainly recovered their composure but lost a player to the sin-bin for once again giving improper advice to the match official. He was to be followed fairly quickly by Crediton flanker Martin Ash for persistent infringing. By this time, the referee had decided that it was Crediton who were committing all the crimes and penalty after penalty went the way of the home side who then regained the lead with an identical try to the first as Crediton simply did not have sufficient defenders to prevent the drive. This was quickly followed by a long range penalty from home centre Evans to put Crediton 13-6 adrift.
This seemed to be the signal for Crediton to get going once more and a couple of searing breaks from fullback Andy Murray almost brought results. Indeed on one from the half way line, he looked to be home and dry until he lost his footing on the pretty uneven surface and went to ground a metre short. It was then the turn of prop Richard Gould whose intelligent running and call for an inside pass enabled him to gain some 15 metres with the home defence clambouring all over him. Sadly this huge effort brought no reward.
The obvious tactic for Crediton on occasions would have been to kick to the lower corners and keep play in the home ‘22’. Firstly, because it is usually the quickest way to get there and secondly, the feeling was that if pressurised, the home side would give more penalties away.
Regrettably, a second yellow card reduced Crediton’s numbers once more and from a scrum 10 metres out, Crediton were forced to defend it with one man short. The home scrum half Bird flew in at the blind side to put the Old Boys 12 points ahead. Unfortunately, the referee failed to spot an infringement as Crediton skipper Jay Harris moved across to cover the move, he was blatantly hauled back by the shirt preventing the tackle from being made - such is life.
Crediton responded swiftly and a break down the right involving Nick Lecharpentier gained good ground but the support was a trifle slow in arriving. More pressure on the home line at last produced results and once again some good recycling together with a patient build up produced a gap for centre Chris Crow to crash over at the posts, Scheepers’ conversion reduced the deficit to five points with five minutes left on the clock. Despite almost constant Crediton pressure, the home side held out to secure a somewhat fortunate victory. To be fair, the Old Boys are undoubtedly a good side especially on their own turf. They have a pack that will see off most sides in the league and a useful set of backs but for some reason today they were under used - I do not see many sides coming away with both points from there.
The Quins, in a hastily rearranged fixture at home to Barnstaple 2nds won a keenly contested game 13-10. Tries from evergreen fullback Shaun Davey and Bobby Mogford plus a Jonny Wilkinson style drop goal from colt Stuart Pickard sealed a deserved victory.
The Hornets game at Torquay was called off by the home side but the Colts travelled to the coast and secured a most impressive victory. Despite going 12 points down in the first ten minutes, Crediton rallied superbly and showed what a rapidly developing side they are. Tries from Nathan Reddick and Adam Wright plus a conversion and two penalties from Ross Toms give Crediton their 18-15 victory. The first time that we have won at Torquay since 1992, when of course we won an epic cup semi-final battle 22-15 before going on to win the trophy.
13th December 2003
Crediton 8 v Ivybridge 0
Despite the wet and slippery conditions, both sides made an effort to play some open rugby and whilst it did not always come off, at least the intent was there to provide entertainment for the crowd. Whatever the circumstances, Ivybridge always provide tough opposition and even though they are currently a league below ourselves, the neutral observer would not have been aware of that during the game.
Statistically, this is a game that has always produced a high scoring result, the previous thirteeen games between the respective 1st XV’s had seen a massive 506 points scored, an average of 39 per game. So even have been the contests that each side has won six and there has been one draw. All this made an 8-0 victory seem somewhat disappointing.
In a first half which provided much honest endeavor but little in the way of scoring opportunities, both defences dominated proceedings. and by half time it was Crediton who had three points on the board courtesy of a Simon Rolfs penalty after the visitors were caught offside. Much of the half had been played between the two ‘22’ metre lines and both sides lacked the penetration to break down the defensive barriers.
The second half produced much of the same although Crediton did seem the most likely to score a try. The efforts were rewarded mid way through the half when, as in the previous few games, patience paid off as the forwards recycled possession and after sucking in the Ivybridge defence, spun the ball out wide where prop Eddie Yeandle drew his man and shipped a try scoring pass for Nic Lecharpentier (not Andy Murray as previously thought - the writers’ eyesight seems to be failing these days) who went over in true Gallic style.
Ivybridge did finish the game strongly but were unable to break through a pretty solid home defence.
The Quins and Colts games at Kingsbridge were called off due to the weather.
The Hornets enjoyed a highly competitive game against Tiverton thirds and came out on top by 13-7. Tivvy took an early lead when their flanker Dan Tolley scored a try. Crediton responded with a cracking try from winger Matt Shapland whose impressive pace took him past the Tiverton defence with ease. Not to be out done, Bobby Mogford on the other wing also bagged a try and the ever reliable boot of Ant Evans landed a penalty. Just to prove that a first can be achieved at any age, third team selector Steve Geatches, after twenty five years of playing for the Club and managing well over 600 games, received his first ever yellow card - no doubt the ten minute break was more than welcome!
As we approach the half way stage of the season, it is worth comparing our situation with that of the same period last season. In the league, up to Christmas last year we had won four and lost eight of our games. In other games we managed three wins and a defeat.
This year we have not fared quite as well with two wins and nine defeats in the league and a win and a defeat in two other fixtures. It is of course difficult to form any conclusions from those statistics. Certainly the league is getting stronger but the biggest factor has probably been the torrid time that we have suffered with injured players. As yet, on only one occasion has the selected side actually taken the field on the Saturday. Of course, to blame injuries is always the easy option and whilst it may in part be attributed to the cause of our problems, there are other factors which also come into play.
There have been a number of games, particularly at home, where we do not seem to have played for the full eighty minutes. Coney Hill springs to mind where we gave our opponents a 19 point start in the first twenty minutes and never fully recovered, yes we did get back to lose 19-22 but playing ‘catch-up’ when you a two scores adrift is difficult but when four scores are required it becomes almost impossible. Weston Hornets is another game where we handed victory to the visitors in the last fifteen minutes after having had the better of things up to then.
Of course, it is not all negative, we have proved that we can compete with the anyone else in the league but turning narrow defeats into victories will only be achieved by playing for the full eighty minutes.
It has been a good season from the point of view of new recruits to the Club with both Andrew Pennington and Simon Rolfs making their mark in the first team. Additionally, Joe Cooke, Oliver Sugden, Joe Willcocks, Sam Pascoe and Dave Stone have all made regular contributions at 2nd XV level and will no doubt be pushing hard for a spot in the Chiefs before the season ends.
Some young players are also enjoying the senior game, Andrew Searle is a rapidly improving as a prop and could most definitely be one for the future. Current colts Bradley Baker, Stuart Pickard, Gareth Kinch and Nathan Reddick have all given a good account of themselves in the Quins and Hornets.
The season to date for the Quins has been a bit stop start and they have managed only four wins from twelve games. However, it is the inevitable knock-on effect of losing players into the 1st XV that has been the root cause. Proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating and the victory against Barnstaple 2nds last week shows what can be achieved when closer to full strength.
The Hornets have won four out of eleven but have at least honoured fixtures when down to less than the required 15. The hard work put in by Steve Geatches and Paul Coupe in keeping the side together should pay off as the injuries recede.
The Colts have probably been the most successful team this season in contrast to last and have currently won eight out of thirteen. With a much bigger squad to choose from this year, some of the results have been impressive, notably a 28-10 home win against last seasons Devon Cup runners up Sidmouth and an excellent 18-15 win away at Torquay. Things are looking very bright indeed for this young side and it could be that next season will see them challenging for a place in the County Final.
The traditional Boxing Day fixture against the Exiles will kick off at around 11 am and it is hoped to have a second game for anyone who wishes to blow the cobwebs away and run off some of the festive food. If you fancy a game - just turn up (with some kit) and no doubt some fun can be had by all.
The first weekend of the New Year provides a visit to Stroud on January 3rd and there is a positive feeling about the game. We generally felt that we were a bit hard done by to have lost so narrowly at home and there is no doubt that we can come away with a good result.
On the same day, the Quins and Colts visit Ivybridge whilst the Hornets play Ivybridge at home
20th December 2003
Crediton 10 v Exmouth 6
After our victory at Exmouth a month ago, the return fixture was always going to be a tight affair Exmouth at full strength they were expected to redress the balance with a win at the Blagdon Ground. However, the Crediton motivation for this game had been implanted after that earlier game when it was felt by most that we were not given much credit for that well deserved victory. Being labelled a poor side by the Cockles management team did much to ensure that the Kirton players would be well and truly ‘up’ for this one.
However, the early exchanges saw almost continuous pressure from the Exmouth pack and Crediton could not get their hands on the ball for the first 20 minutes. For all that effort though, Exmouth had nothing to show for their dominance. As Crediton grew in confidence the forwards began to assert some authority on the visiting eight who, despite a significant weight advantage did not seem to possess the scrummaging technique and often found themselves going backwards.
Exmouth did take the lead with a Dean Chisling penalty on the half hour but the home response was swift when hooker Shane Bayley kicked through a loose ball and centre Chris Crow won the race to touch down, leaving Crediton 5-3 up at the interval.
Crediton increased their lead early in the second half when, from a penalty kick to the corner, a catch and drive move from the resulting lineout worked to perfection and scrum half Phil Pamphilon was on hand to secure the try.
The game, which had been somewhat fractious throughout, became a bit scrappy and it was very much a question of whether Crediton could hold on to their lead. The pressure mounted as the game entered the final quarter but the Crediton defence was superb and held firm. All the visitors could manage was a second penalty from Chisling.
This was a huge result for Crediton making it three wins from the last four league games and, although we remain in bottom spot, we are back on level terms with Thornbury and only two points adrift of Taunton, Exmouth and Hornets. A few more victories like this one will help us to a mid-table position.
The Quins lost at Exmouth 12-19 but gave a spirited display which will provide encouragement for the remainder of the season. Centre Oliver Sugden and hooker Barney Butterfield each scored a try and centre Mark Gulley added a conversion.
December 26th 2003
Crediton 37 v Exiles 34
The now traditional fixture with Crediton Exiles produced some entertaining rugby during a game which epitomised the Christmas spirit. Both sides opted to run more or less everything from anywhere resulting in thirteen tries being scored.
Scorers for Crediton were; Shane Bayley 2, Alan Westcott, Mark Gulley, Ian Gillard, Nick Lecharpentier and Morne Scheepers with Gillard landing a conversion.
For the Exiles; Stuart Crocker, Alex Scheepers, Nathan Reddick 2, Wayne Reed and Richard Daw.
In another festive game, Steve Geatches' XV defeated The Rest 30-5
Saturday 3rd January 2004
Stroud 20 v Crediton 12
The single question on the lips of everyone who watched this game was quite simply ‘how did that happen?’. The home supporters were of course happy in their bewilderment whilst we were left with a journey home rueing a number of gilt edged opportunities that were spurned. This was truly a match in which the act of giving at Christmas was taken to the extreme and whilst Stroud had sent the Club a Christmas card, we went one better and handed them a gift wrapped present.
After the euphoria of a hard earned victory against Exmouth just before the festive break, it was down to earth with a bump. Believe me this was undoubtedly a game that could and should have been won almost at a canter.
It all began so well and for the opening few minutes, we looked sharp outside, putting together some decent handling moves and only desperate defending by the home side prevented a score. However, on five minutes, we did open the scoring with a well worked try after the forwards had put Stroud under pressure and a loose ball was retrieved by Ben Blackburn and his quick pass gave centre Simon Rolfs enough space to race in for a try from 22 metres out, Morne Scheepers added the conversion to put us 7-0 ahead and the prospect of much more to come.
The home side had other ideas and began to get their game together but it still took them nearly 20 minutes to venture into our ‘22’ although they did get a penalty when we were caught offside and centre Adam Seager reduced the arrears. Play became very scrappy and neither side seemed able to control the set scrums as each pack seemed unable to win their own put in. As a consequence, promising attacking situations were lost as the opposition somehow ended up with the ball.
Shortly before the interval, Stroud took the lead when a poor defensive clearance was collected by the home scrum half Mike Coleman who ran it back and managed to get the ball away in the tackle, giving the recipient Seager a simple run in to score, adding the extras himself. Although behind 7-10 at the interval, there seemed no reason why we could not correct the situation. An early second half penalty from Seager extended the Stroud lead.
Then came the first golden opportunity as Tom Vercoe broke a couple of tackles on half way and outpaced the defence leaving a two-on-one with Nick Lecharpentier and a score seemed inevitable. Unfortunately, with the Stroud fullback drawn, the pass out right to the winger was adjudged slightly forward and the chance was gone. Within minutes, Scheepers hoisted a high diagonal kick to the left but the Stroud cover was quickest to react and snuffed out the danger.
Against the run of play, Stroud broke from midfield but there seemed no real danger until their fly half Steve Thompson exposed a hole in the Crediton defence and he raced in to score wide out. Seager added a difficult conversion and suddenly were were playing catch-up and needing two seven pointers to get a result.
After a series of penalties when scrums were taken rather than penalties, we were still left with nothing to show as a Stroud boot managed to clear a loose ball upfield. However, back we came and having won possession from a home put in, the ball was sent out wide where Chris Crow went over in the corner, maintaining his record of a try in each of his last five games. The conversion failed.
Within minutes, a similar opportunity fell to Morne Scheepers but a last ditch tackle forced him into touch a metre short of the line. Still needing two scores, Stroud managed to close the game out and hold on to their lead.
Despite the fact that both the set scrums and lineouts failed to function properly, we still had enough possession and chances to have won with ease........sadly it was not to be.
The Quins travelled to Ivybridge and gained a thoroughly deserved 18-8 win, avenging an earlier home defeat. Tries from Jeff James and Barney Butterfield plus a conversion and two penalties from Shaun Davey proved enough to win a hard fought encounter. Against a much larger pack, the Crediton eight worked hard and more than held their own. In the second half, the Crediton defence was outstanding as Ivybridge mounted a series of attacks in their attempt to pull back the deficit.
The Hornets slumped to a 0-24 home defeat against Ivybridge 3rds but the Colts worked hard for an 8-6 win at Ivybridge.
11th January 2004
Crediton 37 v Taunton 6
The importance of the outcome of this game could not be overstated as this was very much the ‘last chance saloon’ for Crediton. Defeat would make it extremely difficult to escape relegation whereas victory, although not guaranteeing safety, at least relieved the pressure and would give us an even chance of achieving a respectable position in the league.
The welcome return of Richard John to the Crediton side proved a decisive factor in a game that Crediton always controlled against a Taunton side who were a mere two points and two places above us in the league. Returning to his home club, Richard brings a wealth of experience gained from his time at Exeter and the newly found confidence among the players can in part be attributed to his homecoming.
This was by no means a one man show, far from it, the entire eighteen man squad played some of the best rugby seen at the ground for some time and the handling skills of both backs and forwards in slippery conditions was a joy to watch. Taunton for their part, whilst they did take an early lead, huffed and puffed a lot but seldom threatened to breach the solid Crediton defence.
It was the visitors who began brightly and for a few minutes Crediton were unable to get hands on the ball. Taunton took an early lead when fly half Jason Dick landed a penalty after Crediton were penalised for dropping a scrum on their ‘22’. That was about as good as it got for Taunton. The Crediton response was almost immediate and an excellent handling move took play well into the Taunton ‘22’ before eventually being brought to a halt. However, Crediton did recycle possession well and were allowed an advantage when Taunton were caught offside. The move broke down again and play came back for a penalty which Simon Rolfs duly converted to level the scores.
After twenty minutes, the home pack set up a superb driving maul from just inside the Taunton half and taking play to within 10 metres of the line. With almost everyone expecting the ball to be released to the open side, Richard John decided otherwise and darted down the blind side before timing his pass to perfection allowing fly half Morne Scheepers to crash over, the conversion attempt just drifted wide.
Shortly afterwards, Crediton broke down the left flank and set up another ruck and again, John’s pass to Scheepers gave the fly half time and room to land a well struck drop goal to increase the home advantage. Crediton had by now settled into a rhythm with the ball going wide at every whenever the opportunity arose. The game had a rather high penalty count as both sides infringed but it was the home side who made better use of their kicks, going for lineouts to set up a forward drive. The ploy worked well as once again, the catch and drive took play to the Taunton line where hooker Shane Bayley was at the bottom of the pile to claim the try, Rolfs landing the conversion. Taunton prop Chris Phillips received a yellow card for illegal use of the boot which left his opposite number Eddie Yeandle with a nasty cut below the eye.
With half time approaching and Crediton well in command, another attack saw Scheepers chip over the Taunton defence and centre Phil Pamphilon was first to the loose ball which he collected and forced his way to the line for Crediton’s third try of the half, again, Rolfs landed the conversion. With a 25-6 interval lead, we certainly seemed to be in an unassailable position.
The second half developed into a scrappy affair and penalties were awarded, mainly to Taunton which tended to upset the home crowd more than the players. However, the visitors were never able to capitalise on their abundance of possession from these infringements. Certainly Crediton were forced to defend and on one occasion Taunton replacement Andy Tanner did break through the first line of defence but a timely tackle by Rolfs, who by now had switched to fullback after Andy Murray went off with an injury, saved the day.
Gradually though Crediton began to assert their authority on the game and a break from the ‘22’ saw winger Tom Vercoe gained thirty metres before chipping the Taunton fullback who promptly pulled him down with a ‘professional’ foul which earned him a yellow card and Crediton a penalty. From the resulting lineout, Bayley peeled off the back of the maul and raced over to score under the posts, allowing Rolfs a simple conversion.
The final score came when once again, Crediton moved the ball wide and then recycled for Morne Scheepers to grab his second try of the game.
All in all, this was an excellent performance, the forwards had much the better of things in the scrum, the lineouts worked well and the handling was as good as has been seen at any time this season. Again the defence was superb preventing Taunton from crossing the line. For the first time this season, we are off the bottom spot in the league having ‘leap frogged’ Taunton by way of a superior points difference and also moving ahead of Thornbury. We now have to catch Hornets, our next opponents who are just two points ahead of us, it will be a tricky away fixture but one in which victory is a reasonable expectation on current form.
Having reached mid November with nine defeats from nine games, things were looking pretty desolate. However, November 22nd will be remembered not only as the day that England became World Champions, but also the day that our season really got going. Of the eight games played since then, we have won six and lost two, a remarkable turn around.
Of the seventeen games played to date, skipper Jay Harris has played in all of them, Morne Scheepers has played in 16, Ian Gillard, Richard Gould and Alan Westcott have appeared in 15, Shane Bayley, Kevin Ellis and Ben Blackburn each with 14 appearances. Leading try scorers are Chris Crow, Morne Scheepers and Shane Bayley each with five. Overall leading points scorers for the Chiefs are Ian Gillard with 44, Morne Scheepers 38 and Andrew Pennington 37.
The remaining eight league games are away at Brixham, Coney Hill, Berry Hill, Cleve and Hornets and at home to Penryn, Gloucester Old Boys and Thornbury.
The Quins travelled to Taunton more in hope than expectation having suffered heavily against them in the home fixture 7-31 back in November. Despite that, we came away having given a good account of ourselves and were still very much in the game as the final ten minutes approached. It was then that Taunton grabbed two tries and a conversion to give a flattering 32-17 scoreline. Guesting for Crediton, prop Wayne Reed grabbed a couple of tries and his fellow front rower Kevin Ellis scored the other with Shaun Davey adding a conversion.
To date, the Quins have won five and lost ten with Simon Saunders and Jeff James having appeared in 14 games, Shaun Davey 12 and Andrew Searle 10. James and Davey each have four tries with Barney Butterfield on 3. Davey also leads the points scoring with 32.
The Hornets, having lost 0-36 at Taunton earlier in the season would probably have been happy to force a closer scoreline. However, the transformation was beyond all recognition and they not only matched the scoreline but actually improved on it with a 38-0 win. Guesting for the side was Craig Foote who plays his rugby with Exeter Chiefs and whose pace and power was a decisive factor in the victory. Number eight Chris Lee playing his first game of the season got on the scoresheet with a try, recent recruit Angus McHaggis contributed with two tries as did hooker Bobby Mogford. Stuart Crocker also chipped in with one and the evergreen Ant Evans landed four conversions.
The Hornets have won five and lost eight. Edward Haggar has played in 11 of the 13 games, Peter Vallance 10, Stuart Crocker, Bobby Mogford, Chris Nicks and Ant Evans each with 9 appearances. Crocker also leads the try scoring with 4 and Ant Evans with 28 points tops the points scoring list.
Saturday 17th January 2004
Crediton Quins 5 v Tiverton 20
Very little went right for Kirton in this Merit Table encounter with Tiverton 2nds - it was quite simply a bad day at the office as they say. In terms of ability, there was little to choose between the two sides but being such a kindly and generous hearted bunch, it seemed we held over the festive spirit for an extra three weeks as we gifted Tivvy a try and refused to accept two of our own. Still, Tiverton don’t have much to shout about these days as they have only managed one victory against us at senior level this century and that was in April 2000 when they did manage an 18-7 win against the Quins.
Tiverton took the lead after ten minutes when a penalty attempt from their veteran scrum half Keith Sampson missed its’ mark but, with the Crediton side anticipating that the ball would go beyond the dead ball line, Tiverton’s Will Payne had the presence of mind to chase the kick and grabbed himself an unexpected try, much to the embarrassment of the Kirton players. Sampson landed a much easier kick for a 7-0 lead.
The Quins struggled to get into the game and most of their efforts came to nought, often through basic errors. However, on a couple of occasions, the signs were there that, given some decent ball, scoring chances would arise and on several occasions, the Tivvy defence was stretched. Eventaully, the score came with a well worked try for fullback Simon Grainger after some good second and third phase ball had been gained by the forwards. Sadly though, Tivvy responded quite quickly with a Sampson penalty in front of the posts as Crediton were caught offside. At the interval, Tiverton held a 10-5 advantage.
This lead was extended early in the second period when a good handling move provided hooker Reg Gilbert with a try wide out. Crediton then had two gilt edged opportunities to score. Firstly, hooker Barney Butterfield broke from a maul and raced 20 metres to the line but in an attempt to make the conversion easier by going under the posts, he was somehow held up in a tackle and unable to ground the ball.
Minutes later, the same problem arose, this time for flanker Joe Kent who also got over the try line but Tiverton again managed to prevent the score.
This seemed to take the stuffing out of the Crediton side and Tiverton sealed victory towards the end with a try for winger Tom Brooks which was not converted. So, with seven points generously donated to the Tiverton cause and a probable 14 thrown away, it was very much a case of what might have been.
Crediton Hornets 38 v OPM 7
The Hornets dominated from start to finish and the star of the show was undoubtedly the versatile Bobby Mogford who this week was playing at fullback whereas it was only two weeks ago that he bagged two tries when playing hooker.
Crediton were in dominant mood from the outset and provided some excellent entertainment. Scott Baker touched down twice and there was one apiece for Chris Nicks, Stuart Crocker and Russell Franklin. Ant Evans converted all of them and also landed a penalty.
Crediton Colts 52 v Tiverton Colts 0
In a rather one sided affair, Crediton comfortably defeated a very spirited Tiverton side running in a total of eight tries. The quality of the Crediton side was far too good for Tiverton and the result lifted the Kirton team into second place in the Devon Merit Table Northern section. If they can maintain that position, then a place in the semi-final of the Devon Cup will be assured. Ross Moorshead, Adam Wright and Rob Jarman each scored twice with Kyle Marriott and Jason Greenhalf grabbing one apiece. Gareth Kinch landed six conversions.
Sunday 18th January 2004
Crediton 41 v Devon Presidents XV 15
The Club was delighted to host the Devon Presidents XV as a part of the 125th Anniversary celebrations. The Devon side was regarded as a Development XV with the majority of the players being under 23. The one exception was the County captain and former Crediton player Wayne Reed who is marginally over that age.
The game lived up to the occasion as both sides looked to move the ball wide but it was the greater cohesion and experience of the Crediton side which provided the platform for success. Crediton took an early lead when fullback Andrew Murray latched onto a kick from Morne Scheepers and raced through to score. A second try came when Crediton won their scrum midway in the Devon half and some quick handling between scrum half Richard John and No 8 Jay Harris set up an opportunity for right wing Chris Crow to score.
Devon responded and scored a try almost from nothing, winning turnover ball on the home 10 metre line and fly half Steve Cockram (Tiverton) kicked ahead for hooker Brett Stroud to gather and score, Cockram landing the conversion. However, it was not long before Crediton increased their advantage when a flowing handling move involving forwards and backs set up Chris Crow for his second try of the game. Crow’s third try came shortly afterwards when another smart handling move saw him over in the corner and Simon Rolfs landed the difficult conversion.
Cockram reduced the deficit with a penalty after Crediton ventured offside to leave Crediton with a 22-10 half time lead.
In the second half, a quickly taken penalty exposed the Devon defence and Ian Gillard dodged his way through to score with Rolfs adding the extra two points. Devon were the next to score when some good recycling of the ball eventually created an overlap and it was Cockram who was on the end of it to score in the corner. With play going from end to end, Crediton left wing Tom Vercoe used his pace to stretch the Devon defence and set up a ruck from which the ball went out to Scheepers who dummied his way over the line for Rolfs to add the conversion.
The final score went to Crediton hooker Shane Bayley after a classic catch and drive from a lineout had the County side back pedalling. Rolfs added the conversion to give Crediton a 41-15 victory.
Saturday 24th January 2004
Hornets 23 v Crediton 18
This is yet another fixture that has traditionally been a tight affair but, unfortunately, one in which we seem generally to come off second best. We did however travel to Weston with high hopes of a victory after the recent upturn in our form and at one stage it looked as though we might break our duck on their ground.
Following the same pattern as last season, the home side raced to a 16-3 lead before we had really settled down and that advantage could well have been more as we were found wanting defensively in the threes, in itself unusual because the back line has of late been getting their tackles in and generally been in command.
The opening minute almost saw a score for the home side after some Crediton handling lapses allowed Hornets an advantage which they so nearly accepted and only a last ditch tackle prevented a five pointer against us.
Before long though, the home No 8 Phil Mansfield stood off in the threequarter line and charged over. Crediton did respond and earned a penalty as the home backs were caught offside and Simon Rolfs duly obliged with three points. From then on though it was almost all Hornets as they slowly built up a lead with two penalties from their new Canadian recruit Dean Blanks followed by a try from hooker Nicky Collins. To be honest, Crediton looked dead and buried and the only surprise was that Hornets had failed to cash in on their superiority with more points.
As half time approached, we did manage to apply some pressure to the Hornets line and Richard John bagged his first try since his return to the Club when he took a quick tapped penalty and raced over to put us back in contention.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw such a transformation that it was hard to believe it was the same two sides on the park. First, centre Phil Pamphilon was on the end of an excellent move to score and this was quickly followed by winger Chris Crow whose pace and strength again earned him a try wide out. Suddenly, it was Crediton in the ascendency with an 18-16 lead - what could possibly go wrong now?
With time running out, Crediton had contained much of what had been thrown at them until the dying minutes when Hornets broke down their right flank and found room for fullback Matt Seamans to score in the corner, Blanks landed a difficult conversion for a five point advantage which is how it stayed.
Defeat was a bitter blow, leaving us with plenty to do in order to close what has now developed in to a four point gap between ourselves and Hornets and Cleve and with only seven games remaining, four of which are away, we are going to have to battle hard to retrieve the situation. Undoubtedly the players have the ability and the desire but could perhaps do with Lady Luck to smile down just once or twice.
It was good to see Colt George Savage make his bow into league rugby and he looks a real prospect as a prop. Not only does he have the necessary strength to cope in that position, but also his mobility around the park and impressive handling skills are a huge bonus.
Crediton Quins 16 v Newton Abbot 15
The Quins gave a much improved display than last week against Tiverton. The forwards were much more competitive in the rucks and mauls whereas the previous week they tended to stand off. However, it was a last gasp try from another young prop Andrew Searle which brought victory. Colt Nathan Reddick pitched in with a try and an impressive performance to boot whilst Andrew Pennington landed a couple of penalties.
Crediton Hornets 34 v Newton Abbot 11
The Hornets scored over 30 points for the third consecutive week continuing their run of goood form. This time it was a combination of youth and experience which paved the way for victory. Yet another Colts prop Dan Manns, playing out of position at hooker scored two tries with veteran No 8 Chris Lee also grabbing two and centre Stuart Crocker coming up with one try in what seems to be a weekly occurrence of late. Ant Evans landed three conversions and a penalty.
Newton Abbot Colts 8 v Crediton Colts 14
Despite having lost so many players to the senior sides, the Colts still gained an impressive victory at Newton Abbot and thus achieve the double. Matt Shapland and Paul Tripp each scored a try and Gareth Kinch landed a couple of conversions.
31st January 2004
Berry Hill 14 v Crediton 10
The trip to the Forest of Dean brought nothing in the way of reward but everything in terms of commitment, passion, stubbornness and a bit of flair as well and it was Crediton who turned in a performance which prompted the home support to concede that they were indeed very lucky to pull off a victory.
The defeat at Berry Hill has made escape from the relegation zone extremely difficult with only six league games remaining, we will need to win at least four and trust that other results go our way. It could have been so different had two crucial decisions gone our way during the game, decisions which meant the difference between victory and defeat and more importantly whether or not we retain our status in South West Two.
Both involved poor refereeing decisions which were, to put it bluntly, wrong. Firstly, whilst we were holding a 5-0 lead, fullback Andrew Murray hoisted a kick over the Berry Hill defence and which bounced into the in-goal area. A home defender got his hands to the ball before it crossed the dead ball line. The result should have been a 5 metre scrum with our put-in. Certainly there was no guarantee that we would have scored from there but the decision to give a 22 metre drop out to Berry Hill proved costly as they cleared upfield, gained possession and scored. to lead 7-5.
The second incident came when we had to defend a 5 metre scrum soon after the interval. Our front row popped up and the referee awarded a penalty try. This was indeed an unusually harsh decision in view of the fact that it was the first and only time that it happened during the game and most referees would surely have given the benefit of the doubt and simply rest the scrum. A penalty try should only be awarded in a situation where a certain score is prevented by illegal means and this was in my view most definitely not the case. If it became a more regular occurrence then of course the offending side should be penalised.
It inevitably brings into question the whole argument which was debated two years ago about the neutrality of referees in some areas. The Gloucestershire Society continue to operate a policy which is in direct contrast to other County Societies. As an example, at our level when teams from outside Devon play at Crediton, in nearly all instances an exchange referee would be appointed from another area. In Gloucestershire, the opposite applies and an exchange referee is only used when two Gloucestershire teams play each other.
In fairness, we have had far worse referees than we encountered last Saturday but the fact that he was local leaves both he and his County Society open to this type of criticism. I make no apology for this ‘whinge’, we are by no means the only Devon side to feel this way and both Brixham and Exmouth are unhappy with the situation as it stands, unfortunately, none of the ‘powers that be’ seem interested in doing anything about it. We have to go to great expense to hire a coach for these trips and all we ask is to be treated in the same manner as the home side, regrettably, that does not happen in Gloucestershire and it is time for the situation to be corrected.
As to the game itself, the Berry Hill pitch is situated on the highest point in the area and as a consequence, the wind was always going to be an important factor and whilst it is true that Berry Hill had greater territorial advantage in the second period than we had in the first, they still were unable to genuinely cross our line.
The opening exchanges saw Crediton dominate and an early score was denied when, having driven over the home line, we were unable to ground the ball. This early pressure forced Berry Hill to concede a couple of penalties and the ever alert scrum half Richard John tapped and went before feeding inside to centre Chris Crow who exploited a gap in the Hill defence to score. With the wind conditions making life difficult for kickers, Simon Rolfs’ conversion effort drifted wide.
Crediton continued to press but allowed Berry Hill one foray into their ‘22’ and conceded a penalty. Just to prove the point about how difficult kicking was, home fullback Andy Reid failed with the attempt from a relatively easy position. As Berry Hill began to settle, they posed problems with some good driving mauls which took them out of danger on several occasions.
However, the first of the important decisions enabled Berry Hill to use this tactic to put them ahead shortly before the interval. Their solid pack gained possession from the drop out and drove forward and eventually a perfectly timed popped pass from influential No 8 Sean MacRoberts gave lock Mark Graham a simple task of dotting down. Reid made no mistake with this conversion.
Facing the wind and a two point deficit was a daunting prospect for Crediton as the second half began. The problems were compounded in the very first minute of the second period when No 8 and captain, Jay Harris bore the brunt of a hefty tackle as he received the kick off and tried to make ground. The tackle in itself was perfectly fair although the less than discreet boot which followed was certainly unnecessary. Steven Saunders entered the fray as the replacement.
The inevitable pressure from the home side mounted and it seemed only a matter of time before a score would come and with it the possibility of the floodgates opening. The Crediton eight though had other ideas and they defended superbly. Likewise, any attempt by Berry Hill to open the game out wide was rebuffed by the Crediton back line. This forced the home side into attacking the short side and it never really worked for them. To a man, Crediton tackled, harried and generally frustrated the home side but suffered the disappointment of conceding the penalty try. Reid added the simple conversion to put the home side two scores ahead.
Undeterred, Crediton began to go on the offensive and some good driving forward play took the game to the home ten metre line but Berry Hill stole the ball and cleared to touch. From the line out, Richard John again moved the ball out quickly and set up a superb move which saw the ball go through several pairs of hands and stretched and bewildered the Berry Hill defence. Chris Crow used his strength and pace to score from fully 20 metres out in what must surely be our best try of the season. It brought his tally to eleven for the season and in fact Crow has failed to score only once in his last ten games. Rolfs conversion attempt was narrowly wide of the mark.
The last ten minutes was played mostly in the Crediton ‘22’ but on two occasions, we did break free of the shackles and caused some panic in the home half and the final whistle went with Berry Hill working hard to keep us out.
Crediton Quins 28 v Tavistock 10
The Quins managed a reasonably comfortable win against their Tavistock counterparts in a game full of incident. With Colts Stuart Pickard and Nathan Reddick forming a very young centre partnership and recent recruits Joe Willcocks and Oliver Sugden on the wings, it was a relatively untried back line. Add to that another Colt, Dan Manns at prop with more youth in the front row in the shape of Andrew Searle and Bobby Mogford plus Ed Haggar and Nick King in the back row gave the starting line up a look of inexperience. Only the older heads of Chris Lee and Simon Grainger can lay claim to having played regular 1st XV rugby. This combination proved too good for visiting Tavistock and Willcocks, Reddick and lock Richard Gray each scored atry with fly half Andy Pennington converting two and landing three penalties. Unfortunately, Ed Haggar received his marching orders for a second yellow card and will no doubt be a spectator for the next couple of games.
Crediton Hornets 19 v Cullompton II 7
The Hornets continued their run of good form and avenged an earlier 40 point drubbing at Cullompton. Playing up the slope in the first half, Crediton gained a seven point lead courtesy of a Walter Andrews try and an Ant Evans conversion. Hopeful of making good use of the slope advantage in the second period, it came as a disappointment that only twelve more points were scored with tries from Stuart Crocker and Matt Cridge, with Evans landing another conversion. Cullompton gained a consolation try and conversion to make the score closer than perhaps it could have been. Nonetheless, this is four wins on the trot for the Hornets.
Crediton Colts 14 v Paignton 8
The Colts also gained revenge for an earlier 40 point drubbing at Paignton and recorded their eighth successive victory and are now unbeaten since mid November. Still holding 2nd place in the Northern section of the Colts Merit Table, there is a good chance that they can make the semi-final of the Colts cup. Rob Jarman and Kyle Marriott grabbed atry apiece with Gareth Kinch converting both.
Saturday 7th February 2004
Barnstaple II 27 v Crediton Quins 0
Barnstaple proved too strong up front for Crediton on this occasion. Possession was difficult to come by and when it did we were on the back foot. Barum had run up a 17 point lead by half time having played against the wind. A much better second period for Crediton certainly from a defensive point of view.
Crediton Hornets 15 v Barnstaple III 12
Despite fielding a very young side (with on or two exceptions), the Hornets continued their winning run against a very experienced Barnstaple 3rds. A couple of tries from prop Kevin Ellis plus a penalty and conversion from Ant Evans proved just enough to secure a victory.
Barnstaple Colts 22 v Crediton Colts 15
The Colts gave a superb performance against a very strong Barnstaple Colts side who have four players in the England squad. The game was closer than the scoreline suggests and Crediton were in with a chance of victory right to the end. Having played against the elements in the first half, Crediton restricted Barnstaple to a 10-7 lead. Rob Jarman having scored an excellent try from a long way out and Gareth Kinch adding a remarkable conversion. Within minutes of the second half, Kinch levelled the score with a penalty to give Crediton a great chance. The game ebbed and flowed throughout the half but it was the home side who took advantage of a rare defensive lapse to restore their lead. Crediton took the game to Barnstaple again and came close to scoring but were hit on the break and Barum extended their lead with another try. The final ten minutes was all Crediton and with the final whistle looming, Matt Shapland scored a try in the corner after good work by the forwards. Sadly it was too little too late. Crediton though still remain 2nd in the Merit Table behind Barnstaple.
Saturday 14th February
Crediton 12 v Penryn 26
Penryn proved just why they are top of the league with an excellent all round display and in fairness, there is no disgrace in losing to a better side. The Penryn forwards had much the better of things and their backs looked sharp as we always knew they would. However, for all their possession and territorial advantage, it took them until five minutes from half time to open the scoring.
Throughout the opening 35 minutes, the Crediton defence had been truly magnificient and the tackle count would have been impossible to calculate. On the few occasions when we did obtain some half decent possession, the backs looked likely to cause Penryn a few problems.
The double blow shortly before the interval rocked Crediton, firstly veteran lock Kevin Hughes rolled of a maul to touch down and this was quickly followed with a second. Fullback Nick Brown chipped the Crediton defence and although we did get hands to the ball first, it somehow came back on the Penryn side allowing scrum half Dave Pascoe to slip in on the blind side and add the conversion.
The second half saw Crediton storm back in an effort to claw back the deficit and after pressure in the visitors ‘22’ space was created for centre Simon Rolfs to score and the same player added the extras. Sadly though for Crediton, the Penryn response was swift and effective. They managed a turnover close to the Crediton line and Kiwi centre Sheldon Waetford had plenty of space to go over, Pascoe converting. With play going from end to end, it was Crediton who grabbed the next score when fly half Morne Scheepers forced his way over in the corner. Unfortunately, the conversion attempt drifted wide.
Penryn sealed victory with a try at the end when Pascoe darted over for his second try after winning a scrum, he added the two points to give Penryn a hard earned but nonetheless comprehensive victory.
With time running out and only four league games remaining, whilst it is mathematically possible to avoid the drop, we have a mountainous task to retin our SW2 status. Of course it can be done and where better to start than winning at Brixham next week. My crystal ball tells me that we will surprise everyone and win by a clear 30 points.
OPM Jesters 27 v Crediton II 10
Tries from new signing Andy MacLoud and Michael Grigg were not enough to prevent a depleted Crediton side from losing this Merit Table fixture in Plymouth.
Bideford III 13 v Crediton Hornets 31
The Hornets certainly stung Bideford 3rds with this victory, their sixth on the trot. Chris Nicks led the way with a hat-trick of tries and Stuart Crocker continued his remarkable scoring feat with yet another. Ant Evans whose kicking is almost becoming legendary converted all four and added a penalty for good measure, finishing the game with a 100% kicking record.
Saturday 21st February
Brixham 5 v Crediton 35
No it is not a misprint and my prediction from last week proved totally accurate. The result sent shock waves through the league that would have gone off the Richter Scale and sent your archivist scurrying off to check the records.
The fishermen were truly trapped in our net, filleted, grilled and then FINished off with relish. This was no freak result, seven tries to one is not a lucky win. The scoreline actually flattered the home side as every kick at goal failed with a swirling wind which made kicking difficult although at least three should have gone over. We even spurned a further three or four scoring opportunities when overlaps were created out wide but not used - but who cares, with a win of this magnitude against a side very much in the promotion race (until now) odd blemishes in the performance can be forgiven.
The opening minutes gave no real clue as to the way in which the game would eventually develop. The very first scrum looked ominous from the Crediton viewpoint as we were shoved backwards. Granted we were playing up the slope against a lumpy pack. However, with a favourable first half wind, the Crediton sails began to billow proudly and on ten minutes after a long touchfinding penalty, the lineout was won and scrum half Richard John more or less took out the home back row to give Morne Scheepers a chance to jink his way over from ten metres. The kick from in front of the posts was missed. Within minutes, the Crediton pack drove to the home line enabling scrum half Richard John to burrow over but again the conversion was wide.
Brixham had no real answer to the threat now being posed by a rampant Crediton fifteen and certainly looked bereft of ideas when in attacking mode. They simply could not find a way through the Crediton defence which by now had negated any advantage that the slope had given the home side.
Such was the stranglehold that Crediton had on the game, Brixham seldom got out of their own half and it came as no surprise when Colt prop George Savage took on the Brixham defence from 22 metres out, brushing off tackles before touching down with ease. Hooker Shane Bayley then got in on the act adding a fourth as he found himself perfectly placed out wide to race over and even get to the posts. By now the kicking duties had passed from Richard John to Morne Scheepers but unfortunately the net result was the same.
At 20-0, the home support was getting restless which served only to frustrate their players. Cries of ‘cod help us’ and ‘for heavens hake do something’ emanating from the home support reverberated around the ground and it seemed to work. Shortly before half time Brixham received a glimmer of hope when they were awarded a penalty 10 metres out. Crediton retreated the mandatory 10 metres with some players not facing the ball and home scrum half Sean Onslow dashed over before we had realised what was happening. The conversion attempt was missed.
The second half saw Brixham come out in more positive mood and, lifted by their score took the game to Crediton for the first time in the game. With the crowd begging for the ball to go wide, the home side did the opposite and took play back to the forwards. Needless to say they got nowhere and any hopes of a revival was finished off when Scheepers broke on the Brixham ‘22’ before feeding Bayley who raced over. (From here on in no mention will be made of kicking attempts)
Frustration crept into the home side and it took several warnings from referee Neal Woodhead before his patience ran out and Brixham skipper Dan Stead was yellow carded. This was the signal for Crediton to up the pace a bit and when they turned over possession just inside the Brixham half, winger Tom Vercoe showed a clean pair of heels to outstrip the defence and score.
Having started the scoring exploits of the afternoon, it was appropriate that Morne Scheepers should finish it off as he pounced on a defensive lapse and dived over.
This was a superb all round performance which will live in the memory of those who witnessed it for some considerable time. Whilst it gives hope that we can still avoid relegation, we will need four more performances like that in order to ensure safety.
Oh yes, those records. Well firstly, the Brixham view was that we were the first team to score seven tries on their patch since the leagues began and in fact the last team to achieve the feat was Harlequins.
It was our biggest ever margin of victory over Brixham either home or away. The last time we scored seven tries or more in the league away from home was at Saltash on 3rd May 1997 and coincidentally, Shane Bayley scored twice, as did Alan Westcott. Guy Chappell, Ian Gillard, Richard Daw and Alan Lovell shared the other four.
We did also score seven tries at Withycombe in the Powergen Cup in September 2001 and guess what, Shane Bayley grabbed two in that game as did Richard Appleyard. Phil Pamphilon, Alex Scheepers (remember him!) and Mark Gulley each scored one. There have of course been many other occasions when seven or more tries have been scored in a game at all levels but are too numerous to mention.
Crediton II 0 v Brixham II 22
Brixham 2nds play their rugby in the South West Merit Table and their experience and strength proved too much for Crediton. However, we did defend well against a side that has piled up points against many opponets this season.
Brixham 3rds 25 v Crediton Hornets 5
The Hornets run of victories came to an end at Brixham as the home side proved too strong up front. Nonetheless a creditable performance against a well drilled and organised XV
Crediton Colts 18 v Brixham Colts 10
This victory for the Colts means that they have now defeated the two finalists from last seasons Colts Cup Final. Being the holders of the Devon Cup, Brixham were inevitably going to provide a stern test for us. It is a measure of the progress that the young Crediton side has made during this season that they rose to the challenge and pulled off a bit of a surprise with this well deserved victory. A try a piece for Nathan Reddick and Kyle Marriott plus two penalties and a conversion from Gareth Kinch sealed the win.