Topsham played host to table topping Ivybridge Colts for the first time in many years in the Devon Cup Merit Table. It’s doubtful whether any Colts’ team can ever field a full strength line up (due to injuries etc) but this particular Saturday Topsham were hit badly with 14 players unavailable due to work commitments, AS and A levels, Ten Tors training and injuries. Nevertheless, Topsham were able to field a 17 man squad who, despite loosing to an excellent Ivybridge team 7 – 31, put in one of the best team performances of the season.
The game started well for Topsham recovering possession from our kick off followed by some super continuity with Connor Pettitt and Greg Wilmington taking the ball up through Ivybridge’s midfield. Unfortunately, two knock-ons in quick succession allowed Ivybridge to recover and gain a scrum in Topsham’s 22 from which they scored with a well executed try under the posts. Whilst Topsham’s scrum was dominant, the rules limiting how far a pack can be driven back reduced any advantage that might have accrued. Most scrums went with the put in and Ivybridge’s superb back line barely wasted an opportunity. Whilst the first half was very much Ivybridge’s, there were some excellent moments of both attacking and defensive play from Topsham’s back line. Tad Saunders played his first match at fly half as was Ben Hawley at inside centre and both were outstanding in dealing with experienced opposite numbers. Leo Hood looked dangerous at outside centre but it was difficult for Topsham to get the ball out wide and hence there were limited opportunities to test Ivybridge’s defence.
The second half saw Topsham make two substitutions bringing back Cameroon Loney at prop having recovered from a broken ankle and in the last 10 minutes, winger Tom White from a nasty dislocated elbow. The second half was a more even affair with some very enjoyable running rugby on show. Topsham’s heads never dropped and indeed were pushing hard for a try in the last few minutes when the referee awarded Topsham a penalty try for 3 consecutive infringements by Ivybridge in the “red zone”.
A great match to watch played in good spirit.
Man of the Match – Tad Saunders