CREDITON 7 - SIDMOUTH 13
JANUARY has been an extremely disappointing month so far as results are concerned for the First Fifteen and when you are down, everything seems to contrive to go against you.
Anyone who has read my match reports over the past 20 years or so will be aware that I am never one to be overtly critical of individual performances be the player or match official but, sad to say, I am compelled to report that January 28’s game was decided by some woeful decisions by the referee.
The penalty count, in the region of 26 against us to five in our favour was in all honesty a travesty. Certainly some were justified and with those we do not have an issue.
However, our scrum had total domination over the Sidmouth pack who spent most of the afternoon going backwards and their only means of combatting the problem was to wheel the scrum around somewhat illegally and not once did we get a penalty, in fact we were the side that was penalised.
For an 80-minute game (plus an interval of five minutes) to last almost an hour and 50 minutes was nothing short of ridiculous.
Yes, there had been the odd injury but there was nothing to justify an additional 20 minutes.
The Sidmouth penalty to put them ahead came in the 50th minute of the first half and their winning try came in the 50th minute of the second half and quite where that added time came from is a complete mystery to everyone.
We had a player yellow carded in injury time for lifting an opponent in a tackle, there was no danger the player landed on his feet and yet earlier in the game scrum-half Ed Brady was tackled whilst in the air and other than a penalty, no other punishment resulted.
Fair play to the Sidmouth player he was very apologetic and again there was no real danger in the incident but it showed a complete lack of consistency in the decision making of the referee.
I could go on and, of course, it is so easy to be critical and analyse every decision that a referee makes but generally speaking it is extremely rare that the result of a game hinges on decisions by the man in the middle.
However, this was one of those very rare occasions. We did not deserve to lose and certainly Sidmouth did not deserve their victory.
Ask any Sidmouth supporter who witnessed the game and they will accept that even they were embarrassed at the outcome.
I can only praise the efforts of our players who, in fairness, maintained their discipline throughout although quite how I do not know, there were plenty of angry Crediton supporters at the final whistle but fortunately they maintained a dignified silence and accepted that this was simply one of those days.
Clubs in Devon can generally be considered extremely fortunate in the quality and the standard of refereeing of the Devon Rugby Referees Society and needless to say the match official in this game was from out of the county and from an area where it seems the laws of the game are somewhat different to those that we are used to.
For the record, hooker Bobby Mogford grabbed the try that put us ahead and Mark Lee added the conversion.
The Second Fifteen followed up their 43-3 win at home to Paignton last week with an excellent 42-0 win at Sidmouth and in two games have scored 13 tries without conceding one.
With a few players returning from injury, the strength of all teams is being bolstered and if we can remain injury-free over the next two months we will have a great opportunity to get ourselves out of trouble in Western Counties as well as earning a top six finish in the Devon Merit Table One.
Early exchanges were evenly contested but the much-improved Sidmouth side had the physical edge in the contact area, and their backs looked very sharp when given chance.
However, it was Crediton who were first on the scoreboard when after 12 minutes No 8, Chris Hooper, picked up from the base of a scrum and raced 20 metres down the blind side to touch down for a converted try.
Sidmouth fought back but the Crediton defence was rock solid and right on half-time Crediton increased their lead.
Captain Sam Rowe made a strong line break and finding himself in space he raced in for a converted try, making the half-time score 14-0 to Crediton.
Crediton started the second half with a lot more intent and were soon camped in the Sidmouth 22 metres area.
On 52 minutes Crediton scored a third try when Macca Jones was on the back of a strong forward drive to get the final touch down for a converted try.
This was closely followed by another score when John Cheffings made a fine break and Sam Fice was up in support to take the final pass to go over for a try and once again Tom Ronchetti added the extras.
Sidmouth were now reduced to 14 men after their prop was red carded for punching and as a consequence Crediton were now finding space.
Further converted tries from Tom Ronchetti and John Cheffings gave Crediton a well-deserved 42-0 win, with Tom Ronchetti having a fine afternoon with the boot, converting all six tries for a 100 per cent kicking total for the game.
This was a solid performance from a Crediton side that played with good tempo and structure throughout, with many players having strong performances which will make team selection very competitive.
The Third Fifteen have benefitted too and, having scored a tremendous 12-0 win at home against Torquay Seconds, a result made all the more remarkable by the fact that we lost 0-94 there earlier in the season, it was followed up with a 41-14 win at home against South Molton Seconds.
A former First team scrum-half made his first appearance of the season and touched down twice as did Ed Marshall.
there were also tries for Jamie Acton, Andy Dafters and Paul Hawkins with Joe Green adding a couple of conversions and Danny Howard one.
The Colts continued to keep their hopes alive for a place in the Colts Cup Final with a crucial 19-15 victory over Kingsbridge following their 19-all draw with Exeter the previous week.
Fly-half Josh Davey grabbed two tries and two conversions and has now scored 118 points so far this season. David Gray also went over for a try.