Chiefs extend lead at the top
Bideford defeat Okehampton to remain top of the pile and extend gap over 2nd place St Austell.
With St Austell’s game at Wellington falling foul of the weather, Bideford were able to open up a 5 point gap at the top of the table thanks to a bonus-point win at home to Okehampton.
The Chiefs didn’t have it all their own way in the first half. Okehampton shot in to a 6-3 lead thanks to a drop goal and a penalty from Okes fly-half Carl Poynton, as the Chiefs struggled to get on the right side of the referee; much to the dismay of the large home support. Pat Sanders kicked the Bideford points.
It took 15 minutes for the Chiefs to get in to gear, as more and more pressure was piled on to the Okehampton line. However, on 23 minutes as Bideford looked likely to score, the referee took exception to Richard Norman’s footwork at a ruck and sent the second row for 10 minutes in the sin bin.
This mattered little to the Chiefs as with almost their very next attack a rolling maul from a lineout 7 metres out lead to Simon Bright getting the touch down. Sanders added the conversion from wide left in what was a very impressive display for the man making his first appearance at fly-half in the absence of regular 10 Stefan James.
With Norman still in the bin, the Chiefs did not sit back and attempt to defend. Instead, James Buckland cut a line back across the forwards from quick line out ball on the 22 and cruised over for Bideford’s second try on 29 minutes. Buckland’s dive at the end mimicking Sam Olde’s regular finish as he proved despite only having scored 1/5th of Olde’s tries, he’s still able to touch down with a flourish. Sanders kicked the conversion from dead in front.
It took only a matter of moments for fellow centre and skipper Andrew Loosemore to get on the score card. Finishing up on the end of a Sanders off-load to the left of the uprights to give Bideford a dominant 24-6 half-time lead.
At Okehampton earlier in the season Bideford had surrendered a 27-0 lead to draw 27-27. That wasn’t about to happen again in this return fixture. Sanders kicked a penalty from 35 metres before Paul Thomas finished up at the bottom of a second rolling maul try that went 25 metres before the score was completed.
The Chiefs had opportunities to add to the lead, most notably when Buckland’s quite obvious score was ruled out by the referee for a knock-on that apparently only he had seen.
With the game now won, Okehampton, to their credit continued to fight. After Andrew Baxter had seen yellow just minutes after his introduction for what was supposedly foul play, a set-move at the Okes scrum saw Rob Fishleigh dive over in the corner when there was a sizeable overlap.
As the game was drawing to a close Bideford had their third sin-binning of the game, hooker James Starkey getting his marching orders in front of the post for denying a scoring opportunity by killing the ball.
Okehampton opted for the scrum and despite pushing the depleted Bideford pack back over the line, they were unable to get the ball touched down and knocked on.
Final score 34-13.