Barnstaple enjoy convincing win over Bideford in Boxing Day rugby derby
BARNSTAPLE coped well with terrible conditions to record their most convincing win in the Boxing Day derby for five years.
They scored five converted tries to beat Bideford 38-0 in front of a crowd of about 800 at Pottington Road this afternoon.
Bideford had been due to host the match at King George's Field but it has been left waterlogged by the recent heavy rain.
It was not much better at Barnstaple's ground, but the teams were able to complete 70 minutes before a torrential downpour and an injury to Andrew Loosemore, the Bideford captain, led referee Zerren Bell to call an early halt.
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Barnstaple are on a long winning streak in the festive fixtures and a 38-point margin was their biggest since they won 57-3 at Pottington Road in 2007.
This afternoon's defeat was the first time Bideford had failed to score a point since 2005.
They never really looked like doing so, aside from a five-minute spell before half time when they pressed hard but could not break through.
Barnstaple dealt far better with the slippery ball than their opponents.
Their handling in such difficult conditions would probably have brought a win against many of their National Three south west rivals, let alone a side from Tribute Western Counties (west), two divisions below.
It was particularly impressive in their opening try on 13 minutes. Luke Berry sidestepped through a gap and fed Simon Watkins who, as he fell, played a beautiful pass. Will Topps then put Toby Williamson in and the wing finished with a dive in the left corner.
Berry added the conversion to a penalty he kicked in the eighth minute to give Barnstaple a 10-0 lead.
Watkins had only been on the field for a few seconds, having replaced the injured Ryan Carter.
Visiting from New Zealand for Christmas, Watkins, the former Barnstaple centre, turned back the clock with a typically wholehearted performance before making way for another Barum old boy, Danny Gross, in the closing stages.
Winston James, the Barnstaple captain, suddenly emerged from a maul to score his side's second try in the 30th minute.
And just three minutes later Mike Sumner broke through the midfield and Topps took the ball on, drawing the last man to again put Williamson in for a try.
Bideford then hit back with a spell of possession but they could find no way through the Barnstaple defence.
Having been camped in the right-hand corner, they opened up an opportunity by switching left. But rather than measuring a pass to Josh King on the touchline, Sam Olde could only punch the ball on and King, with one man to beat, let the ball slip through his hands.
Bideford made four changes at half time and another two by the 53rd minute. With Barnstaple introducing youngsters Calum Sumners and Ben Vellacott to the half-back positions, it did little to help the game flow.
Bideford were unable to make any impression while Topps was in the sin bin early in the second half for what the referee ruled was a punch, and Barnstaple took 20 minutes to add to their 24-0 half time lead.
The fourth try came when Linford Brock slipped out of a tackle on the right wing and stepped inside the last man before passing for Gary Turner to score.
Then, in the 65th minute, Sumner wrestled his way over the line from a few metres out for a well-deserved try after an outstanding performance at blind-side flanker.
Berry added the conversion to complete the scoring and take his personal tally to 13 points.
As the game went beyond the hour, a storm blew down the Taw, causing spectators to run for cover.
When Loosemore emerged from a ruck with a nasty gash to his head, there was little will among players, coaches and spectators for the match to continue and the final whistle was blown.
Barnstaple: Will Topps; Luke Berry, Linford Brock, Ryan Carter, Toby Williamson; Neil Giddy, Ross Williamson; Mark Berry, Adrian De Riz, Phil Gordon, Matt Gohl, Gary Turner, Mike Sumner, Winston James, Kele Taofinu'u.
Reps: Simon Watkins (for Carter, 13), Calum Sumners (for R Williamson, 28), Ben Vellacott (for Giddy, ht), Scott Warren (for James, 60), Nigel East (for M Berry 60), Danny Gross (for Watkins, 66).
Sin-binned: Topps (43-56).
Scorers – tries: T Williamson 2, James, Turner, Sumner. Cons: L Berry 5. Pen: L Berry.
Bideford: Adam Crouch; Sam Olde, James Buckland, Andrew Loosemore, Josh King; Stefan James, Chris Snell; George Snell, James Starkey, Paul Thomas, Richard Norman, John Mock, Dave Evans, Jamie Giddy, Simon Bright.
Reps: Harvey Brown (for Evans, ht), Pete Hockridge (for Giddy, ht), Pat Sanders (for Crouch, ht), Mike Williams (for Norman, ht), Norman (for Williams, 47), Williams (for Norman, 49), James Scott (for Buckland, 53), Jason Gubb (for Thomas, 53).
Sin-binned: Gubb (58-68).