Nine-try Bideford thrash Exeter Saracens
BIDEFORD scored nine tries to thrash Exeter Saracens 57-12 in Tribute Western Counties (west).
It was cold and wet, and the pitch at King George's Field was muddy, but Bideford turned in one of their best performances of the season.
It stretched their unbeaten league run to seven games and kept the pressure on leaders St Austell, who remain eight points clear after a 25-11 home win over Okehampton.
Six of the tries went to backs, with left wing Josh King crossing twice, but Bideford's win was built on the forwards' formidable scrummaging and rucking.
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The Chiefs controlled the match from the start and effectively won it with three converted tries in an eight-minute spell in the first half.
Blind-side flanker Dave Evans hacked on three times to score the opener on 20 minutes, then King finished a flowing move from a stolen lineout and centre James Buckland barged through the would-be tacklers and rounded the full back to score the third.
Saracens got their first points on the board shortly before half time when lock Alex Moore went over from a tapped penalty.
It took less than two minutes of the second half for Bideford to reassert their authority with the bonus-point try. Full back Adam Crouch made a good run and Buckland drew the last defender for King to score in the left corner.
Three more tries followed before the 63rd minute through half backs Stefan James and Chris Snell, both finding a way through from close range, and Crouch, sprinting round the outside from 20 yards out. The latter two were converted by replacement Pat Sanders.
A penalty try awarded to Bideford in the 74th minute, converted by Sanders, was inevitable after a string of scrum offences, which saw Saracens hooker Nick Shires sin-binned.
Lock Richard Norman completed the scoring for the home side in the 77th minute when he crashed over from a tapped penalty.
To their credit, the visitors' 14 men came back strongly in the last few plays and were rewarded when centre Rob Stanley slipped through to score.
It was Bideford's second biggest winning margin of the season, beaten only by the 70-0 victory over Penryn at King George's Field in October.
The only downside was the sight of captain and centre Andrew Loosemore leaving the field eight minutes into the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
Bude had to settle for a losing bonus point from their home match against Devonport Services.
Devonport's 13-12 win was only their second away victory of the season.