Rugby: St Austell produce eight-try spectacular to beat Sidmouth
ST AUSTELL ran in eight tries against a depleted Sidmouth to secure a third bonus point win of the season and move into second place in the SW1 league.
The home side were outgunned in the forwards and outpaced in the backs but never gave up on their defensive duties.
Sidmouth were under pressure for virtually the entire 80 minutes and but for some heroic tackling by the home side and over complication by the visitors the scoreline could have been a whole lot worse.
The heavy rain experienced on the journey up from Cornwall never really materialised at Blackmore to make for a pleasant afternoon.
From the off the Saints were on top and the early pressure finally told when flanker Paul Winterbottom forced his way over for the first try, converted by skipper Matt Shepherd.
Sidmouth hit back and enjoyed their best period of the match with scrum half Christian Goddard, who had a fine game throughout, making some ground with his probing runs.
The Saints first up defence eventually forced a turnover and an astute box kick by scrum half Andy Ashwin unleashed full back Dan Pearce who won the race to the ball to dribble soccer style deep into the home 22.
Just as a try seemed certain Sidmouth defenders managed to force the ball into touch. From the line out the Saints pack rumbled forward until openside Ian Venner darted over, Shepherd made light of the difficult conversion.
Sidmouth were now under almost relentless pressure and the strain told when a loose clearance kick landed in Dan Pearce's hands just outside the Saints' 22.
The full back set off at breakneck speed jinking and side stepping as he went to outpace the home defence and glide under the posts. Shepherd slotted the conversion.
On 28 minutes the bonus point was in the bag when a blindside move from a solid scrum allowed number eight Tom Cotton and Andy Ashwin to combine to send winger Ben Chenoweth over majestically in the corner. Shepherd's unerring accuracy with the boot sent the conversion over from the touchline.
The half petered out to make the half time score 28-0 to the Cornishmen.
Having received a stern rebuke from the coaching team for letting the intensity drop in the closing stages of the first half, the Saints started the second period at full pelt.
The introduction of veteran Jeremy Grigg gave the pack added power and impetus. Grigg played in the Saints' last visit to Blackmore in 1997 and Dendro-dating confirmed that "Tregorrick Man" is well over 40.
The forwards patiently clocked up the phases until the Sidmouth defence finally cracked to allow Matt Shepherd to steal over to score, almost inevitably the skipper also converted his own try.
At 35-0 and with 30 minutes remaining things were looking ominous for the home side but to their great credit they dug deep and tackled like demons.
The green defensive wall was starting to frustrate the visitors and Grigg ended his cameo with a yellow card for hands in a ruck.
With five minutes remaining the Saints were restored to the full 15 and almost straight away scored when Ian Venner finished off an excellent move from a scrum.
Not to be outdone Venner's backrow partner Paul Winterbottom also strode over for his second try, both were converted by Shepherd.
The best was saved to last when a flowing backline move was finished off with aplomb by winger Ben Chenoweth.
The biggest shock of the afternoon came with the last kick of the game when Shepherd missed the final conversion.
The Saints can be pleased with their efforts in the opening month of the season; faced with three away games out of four the squad has coped well with the initial challenge.
SW1 is a tough league and there are sterner tests to come but this is a group with huge potential and desire, a potent combination.
There were further celebrations in the Blackmore Clubhouse when news filtered through of the Colts great win over Redruth Colts.
As part of the club's 50th anniversary celebrations, this Saturday has been declared a "Wear It Red Day" for the visit of Hornets RFC from Weston-super-Mare to Tregorrick Park.
There is free entry on the day with everyone asked to show their support of St Austell RFC by wearing red.
The club is also honoured to be hosting RFU president Bob Reeves and CRFU representative David Martin. Kick-off on Saturday is 3pm.
St Austell's Under 16 players Max Goudge, Harry Behn, Ben Retallick, Charlie Shakespear, Lewis Lee, Callum Boyce and Callum Hayne have been selected to play for Cornwall.