Torquay triumph in opener
MATCH REPORT – CREDITON 13 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 26
SATURDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER 2017
Torquay Athletic got off to a winning start in Western Counties West in a keenly contested match against a Club which ended last season one League place below Tics, in tenth place. The players at Crediton are never less than determined.
The result was a welcome tonic to the new coaching team of Ed Barnes and Chris Dorling, who have worked hard in the pre-season build up.
Members and supporters looking at the League Table may be confused as to why Tics' remain on nil League points. The reason is that at the end of last season South West Leagues discovered an adminstrative error and decided to impose a five point penalty, carried over to this campaign. The Club appealed against what was considered to be a harsh sanction, but to no avail. This bonus point win at Crediton therefore wipes the slate but means that Tics' will now be playing “catch up” on those Clubs who likewise started with a win.
Despite doing the double over their hosts last term Torquay had needed considerable resilience to see out wins in both matches, having initially established decent leads. This time both Teams were somewhat depleted by unavailability or injury; Crediton perhaps the more so, with a player wedding causing many absences.
Torquay's problems lay in a shortage of recognised backs. The final match of the cricket season claimed two first choice players, whilst centre Josh Mackin and promising young scrum half Kye Munslow have decided to try their luck at Newton Abbot. Utility back Mawgan Penrice is travelling to Australia for their cricket season, whilst hitherto First Team regulars Andy Gormley and Tony McCarthy have decided to call time on First Team rugby due to long term injuries.
So, it was a patched up starting XV which saw normal hooker Bertie Turner at No.9 and winger Jonny Brown moving to outside centre. Tics' are delighted to have re-signed scrum half Alex Jeffery following his return from two years working in Jersey. Here he reverted to fly half and played despite carrying a niggling injury.
Tics' kicked off and started brightly. Kirton were penalised for a high tackle and the visitors kicked for position and a close in attacking lineout. A driving maul was halted but two phases later Torquay were awarded a scrum put-in just outside the Crediton 22.' The won ball was moved swiftly from right to left along the backline. Full back James Wood came into the attack on the 22' and continued a diagonal incursion towards the left, allowing him to evade the defensive cover by continuing this trajectory and crossing the line. 0 – 5 after five minutes.
The same player was then invloved behind his own try line, kicking clear to touch over half way to relieve pressure as the home side endeavoured to strike straight back.
Torquay had edged the first quarter, during which Wood and Crediton outside centre Oli Down had traded unsuccessful penalty kicks at goal.
Following a good step inside by inside centre Barry Kerea, which opened up Torquay's defensive line, Crediton almost scored out wide right, until an untimely knock on halted their progress. However, when in possession their young set of backs looked quite threatening. Just after the half hour the home side opened their account with a routine penalty from Tics' 22, converted by Down.
Then a good period of attacking play by Torquay and a surge through the middle by open side flanker Richard Read, who was returning following an injury affected 2016 /17 campaign. He made inroads deep into the 22' and although Crediton managed to halt the flow in the shadow of their own posts Tics' retained possession and spun the ball wide with Wood providing an overlap to dive over and then convert from the touchline. With five minutes to the break it was 3 – 12 and Tics' had made better use of their scoring chances, whilst managing to repell Kirton attacks at the opposite end.
Two minutes after the re-start right wing Arron Graham broke out with a hack ahead, but although evading two tacklers he was eventually caught, but was isolated and duly pinged for hanging on to the ball on the ground.
When Crediton ceded possession Tics' came storming back and from a 5 metre scrum the pack persevered with a series of pick and go's, before the Crediton defence found new Torquay Team Captain Jon Woodhead too much to handle from close in and he crashed over, with Wood adding the conversion for 3 – 19 after forty seven minutes. Crediton then tried their hand at the rolling maul, but were twice held up by stoic Tic's defence.
As the match was close to entering the final quarter left wing Alex Stafford was forced to retire with a dislocated shoulder – a big blow as he had played a prominent part in defending against the home side's lively backs.
Without a recognised backs replacement, Read reverted to the wing, with flanker Dan Woods coming on in his place. Debutant prop Calvin Bradley was replaced by Dan King.
Immediately Crediton kicked for a 5 metre attacking lineout on the right, but Torquay held firm against a series of pick and go's. Crediton were persistent an stayed deep in the red zone, but spurned their best scoring chance yet when, under pressure, a winger dropped the ball over the try line.
However they had been playing an offside advantage and as play was called back decided to scrum from close in. They were again frustrated as Tics' debutant hooker Chris Robson-Close took one against the head.
Torquay then broke out with a long carry by lock Isaac Fahey and just over halfway he slowed with ball in hand to await support. Although the ball went to ground it was hacked ahead and Jonny Brown reacted quickest to chase and touch down as the ball reached the try line. Again Wood converted from the touchline for 3 – 26.
The game was now effectively won, but one can never discount a Crediton comeback, especially on their home patch. However on this occasion they had left too much to do. Nevertheless they scored, as Tics' concentration flagged on a short tap penalty 30 metres from their own line. This allowed Karea to pick his way through to the try line. It was 8 – 26 with ten minutes left to play.
Playing catch up the home side then scored with a great individual try by Down. A move started initially behind ther own try line was given impetus by Karea, who once again created space and a well timed pass put Down away, still with 80 metres to run.
Amongst the chasing pack was Tics' quickest player Brown, but as he gained ground on the player in possession cramp halted his effort and to his credit Down sped and created deception with subtle changes of pace and direction to score. His touchline conversion was missed and the game ended 13 – 26.
15 – James Wood, 14 – Arron Graham, 13 – Jonny Brown, 12 – Jack Barnes, 11 – Alex Stafford, 10 – Alex Jeffery, 9 – Carl Turner.
1 – Josh Castleton, 2 – Chris Robson-Close, 3 – Calvin Bradley, 4 – Isaac Fahey, 5 – Jon Woodhead (Captain), 6 – Shane Wakeham, 7 – Richard Read, 8 – Lewis Harben.
Replacements: Dan King and Dan Woods.
Meanwhile at the Rec. the Extras entertained Crediton Thirds in the opening Devon Merit 2 match. Although going behind to an early Kirton score the home side ran out 29 – 5 winners. Crediton had arrived with 14 players and Torquay made up their number by “lending.” Later, when Crediton were reduced again to 14 by injury Tics' withdrew a player to maintain number parity.
Full credit to the mid Devon side, which won a prestigious RFU award as National Community Club of the Year in 2015 /16, based very much on player retention. On this particular Saturday Crediton managed to field four Senior Teams, with their Two's at Brixham, Three's at Torquay and Colts at Sidmouth. This, despite typical early season team raising hitches.
Next week sees the first home League match versus Devonport Services. Services had a very encouraging 2016 /17 and just into the New Year headed the League Table. Eventually they fell away and had to settle for third place but have started the current season well with a healthy home win over Tiverton (46 - 10). Last season saw an away win for Tics at The Rectory by 12 – 20, followed later by a home defeat at the Rec. by 3 – 20.
Kick off is 3.00 pm and the match is sponsored by the Summer Skittles League, to whom the Club is grateful.
It would be great to see a good home crowd in attendance.