Rugby: Bideford v St Austell match report
Bideford 12 St Austell 38
ST AUSTELL came out on top in the battle of the SW1 new boys to get their season up and running with a bonus point win at old rivals Bideford.
As is so often the case in clashes between these sides in recent years there was a lot riding on this game.
Both teams travelled to Somerset last week for their opening fixtures with depleted squads only to return with sobering defeats.
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After the jubilation of last season's joint promotion from the Western Counties it was a reality check.
Pre-match team news showed that both sides were able to field stronger squads than last week although there were still some notable absentees.
Bideford have invested significantly in re-laying the pitch; gone is the muddy gluepot as King George's Field now boasts a pristine lush green playing surface.
In glorious sunshine and in front of a large crowd, the Saints moved the ball menacingly on receiving the kick-off. Ignoring a two man overlap the carrier stepped inside becoming isolated among the waiting Bideford pack.
The moment was gone and the inevitable penalty for not releasing allowed the home side to take a firm grip of the game.
The mounting pressure finally saw centre James Scott crash over with Pat Sanders adding the extras. Bideford were now playing with real fire and passion and the Saints were struggling to contain the rampant home pack.
A catch and drive from a lineout was initially stopped in its tracks only for a second rolling maul to rumble again with prop George Snell eventually squeezing over to make it 12-0 after ten minutes.
As the half progressed Bideford's early fire started to dampen and the Saints offload game started to clock up the phases.
The breakthrough came on the half hour mark when flanker Paul Winterbottom took control of a free kick to charge under the posts. Captain Matt Shepherd converted.
Excellent close quarter work by the forwards created the space for Andy Ashwin to outpace the home defence to score.
Shepherd's touchline conversion brought the half to a close with the Cornishmen 14-12 in front.
The second period exploded into life after six minutes when full back Sam Tank intercepted a loose Bide pass in the 22.
His scorching run took play to just inside the opposition's half before centre Curtis Newberry took over proceedings and accelerated away into the Clubhouse corner for an unconverted try.
The Saints took control from the restart and after several phases from the forwards Taylor turned provider to put Shepherd in the opposite corner to extend the lead to 24-12.
The Saints started to look dangerous on the counterattack and really should have put the game beyond doubt in the 64th minute.
A blistering attack had Bideford stretched to breaking point only for the try chance to be lost due to a forward pass as the Saints endeavoured to work the overlap.
As the game entered the final ten minutes the Saints were dominating with Bide struggling to contain the speed of the visitors' offload game.
Prop Hugh Noott crashed over from a lineout while Shepherd scored a sensational solo effort with his elusive running style. Shepherd converted both tries to make the final score 38-12.
Man of the match was hooker Miles Davey in only his second game for the Saints. His thirst for hard work and his diligent carries inspired the pack to create the forward momentum that delivered victory.
This Saturday, the Saints are at home at last, and back in front of The Massive, when they welcome Chard RFC to Tregorrick (3pm).
The Somerset side are living up to pre-season expectations of being among the pacesetters and are currently unbeaten.