On Saturday, we welcomed Bodmin RFC to Bonfire Field for the club's first home fixture in the Cornwall & Devon League, and put in a crowd-pleasing performance to secure a bonus-point win.
Playing into the wind, Topsham got on the front foot thanks to some great scrummaging against a bulkier pack - Lambden, Miles & Cottle working well as a front row. A couple of times the referee's whistle narrowly denied exploitation of turnover ball, but in sunny, dry (some would say classically Devonian) conditions the Topsham backline gradually grew in confidence and started to get the measure of the Bodmin defence.
Your humble correspondent took advantage at a tap penalty to gallop, giraffe-like, untouched for six, maybe seven, whole metres and despite a subsequent forward pass, it wasn’t long before we threatened out wide. After some in-goal area pinball Eddie Roberts managed to get the ball down and claim the honour of claiming Topsham’s first ever points in the Cornwall & Devon League.
A succession of brainfarts then followed, primarily from senior players (writer included) who should know better, and we were repeatedly penalised for infringements at the breakdown. Bodmin slotted two penalties in quick succession to take the lead 5-6. After a period of tighter discipline Topsham regained the momentum, with strong carries from Moore, Westwood, Litten and Brewster, and effective counterattacking led again by Luke Edwardson, who got on the end of some deft handling to score his first league try for Topsham.
Continued dominance afforded us a kick for the corner, and a well-executed lineout drive saw Marcus Cottle shunt over for Topsham’s third. Shortly before the break, Matt Marsh made the best of midfield turnover, fixing three defenders before an accurate release of the ball out wide for Nigel Riordan to score in the corner.
A more challenging penalty attempt by Bodmin didn’t quite make the cross bar, and so the score at half time (to the best of my memory) was 20-6.
The second half was less productive, with ill-discipline again allowing Bodmin to gain territorial pressure. At times, we did make use of the following wind to play in the right part of the pitch, but centre George York inexplicably juggled the ball out of his hands as he crossed the line to butcher an otherwise well-choreographed move. His blushes were spared not long after, as three quick phases from a lineout created the space for Luke Edwardson to scamper over for his second try, and Topsham’s fifth of the game. Replacements Nick Shires, Christian Edbrooke and Sam Whitlam all acquitted themselves admirably (Edbrooke showing true versatility by slotting into the centres after Ben Shires made one too many crunching tackles on his opposite number).
The final 15 minutes or so were spent largely in our own 22, where disciplined defending kept Bodmin at bay, but poor decisions and increasingly variable linespeed allowed them back towards our goal line all too soon after each exit. The final defensive effort culminated in a lungbusting 70-yard hack forward but George York’s energetic chase, and potential redemption, was denied by the ball crossing the touchline before he could gather it. Final score 25-6.
Man of the Match: Matt Marsh for his energy, quick-thinking and industry.
Twit of the Day: The butter-fingered George York for a rare but glaring error.