With the previous weeks not going Topshams way the 1st XV needed a win to break their apparent stream of bad luck. South West 1 outfit Sidmouth RFC 2nd XV was chosen for a friendly and conditions couldn’t have been better for Topsham with Sidmouths wide firm pitch almost tailor made for Tops brand of running rugby.
The Match saw Phil Irish return at Fly Half and inaugural 1st XV caps go to Nick Kirby (flanker), Ben Rudkin (wing), Will Harvey (centre) and Liam Moran (wing).
Coach Colin Milkins saw the chance to experiment with positions as well trying out Paul Ferris at Full Back and the erstwhile Lock Rupert Stanning at No8. These proved good choices with Paul looking comfortable under the high ball and Rupert running the Sidmouth defence ragged off the set piece. It wasn’t long, five minutes to be precise, before Stanning crossed the line next to the posts for the opening score with Captain Jack Knowles adding the extras. Minute’s later Sidmouth indiscipline allowed Knowles to kick at goal for an extra three. Training seemed to be paying off with straight running allowing Tops to release their wings with space, this saw star signing Ricky Pellow set up Ben Rudkin for his debut try. Again Knowles added the extras. Sidmouths lack of discipline around the ruck area saw one of their forwards sent for a ten minute rest and the resulting kick earned Tops another three points. Straight from the restart Tops momentum saw Ian Jones cross in the corner after only two phases. Sidmouth responded with a strong attack from a turnover and released their right wing to dive over in the corner, the conversion was missed. The Topsham forwards seemed to be a bit envious of all these backs' tries. So from a line out on Sids 22 meter line a catch and drive was called and was mauled all the way to the try line with Sam Bray falling over the line for a converted try. In the dying seconds of the half Graham Searle crossed for his fourth try in three appearances. The conversion unfortunately drifted wide.
Half time Sidmouth 5 Topsham 37
Wholesale changes were made to the line-up as Milkins is still looking at the plethora of new signings Tops have gained. Former Colt Josh bray was on for Stanning, Sam Bray swapped for Kev Ware and Will Harvey came on for Paul Ferris. Sidmouth came back from the break with a renewed fire which tested both Topshams defence and attack. Tops defence stood firm but so did the oppositions for much of the second half. Ten minutes into the second half Ricky Pellow was judged to have joined a ruck illegally and was sent to the bin to think about what he’d done. With 14 men Tops defended well but Sidmouths renewed vigour created the opportunity for a crash ball try under the posts and the conversion brought their total to 12. A couple more changes were made with Phil Irish going off for Chris Jenkins and Ben Rudkin letting Liam Moran have a crack of the whip. Into the last quarter Tops wanted more points on the board and the ever reliable Adam Buckley, Topshams try machine, was there to make it happen with two fine individual tries in the space of 5 minutes, one was converted. With ten minutes left on the clock Tops kept probing the Sidmouth defences trying to find a space and with five to go Jack Knowles skipped over the line and converted his own try. The last five minutes was a haze of scrums and the front row were glad to hear the whistle blow for full time.
Full time score Sidmouth 12 Topsham 54