Western Counties League (West)
BUDE moved out of the Western Counties League (West) relegation zone with a thrilling comeback bonus-point victory over Tiverton at a wind-blown and showery Bencoolen Meadow.
The Seasiders were behind for long spells but fought their way back from 24-12 down thanks to tries from Ollie Denford and Angus Hodges to earn their sixth home win of the campaign.
Despite fellow strugglers Wellington surprising Truro, Bude’s spirits would have been boosted by news that Crediton and Burnham-on-Sea lost to give the North Cornwall club a one point cushion in the battle for survival.
Bude began the game impressively, as once again their powerful front five gaining the upper hand in the scrum while Dan Pearce looked dangerous whenever he had possession as they started to threaten the Tiverton line. However, they once again lost impetus and opportunities by unnecessary and inaccurate kicking when perhaps retaining possession and going through the phases would have been a wiser option considering the conditions.
They were made to pay for their inaccuracy when Tiverton created the space for their winger Euan Howells to squeeze over in the corner for the opening try from their first meaningful attack. Callum Stone kicked a fine touchline conversion to give the East Devon side a 7-0 advantage.
After 28 minutes Pearce had to leave the field when a head high tackle laid him low, and, without their most incisive runner, Bude looked to be struggling against a Tiverton side that was growing in confidence. Tiverton duly increased their lead through Stone’s penalty.
Bude at home though are a resilient bunch, and their mighty pack once again took control of proceedings driving Tiverton back deep into their half. From a scrum near the Tiverton line, the Bude pack shunted their opponents unceremoniously several yards backwards. When another scrum was awarded, they repeated the performance to such an extent that the referee, Mr Derek Blackburn, had no option but to run under the posts to signal a penalty try. Ollie Denford further reduced the arrears with a simple conversion.
Bude were immediately back on the attack and just before the half-time whistle a driving maul well-orchestrated by Jason Bolt and James Comber, gave young winger Jack Horwell room to dart over for a try. The conversion sailed wide but Bude went into the interval with a narrow 12-10 lead.
The game then changed dramatically and once again Bude were architects of their own downfall. From an attacking position, a series of sloppy ill-directed passes gave an easy interception to the Tiverton centre who raced away looking odds on to score. He was hauled down by a magnificent covering tackle by Dan Pearce who had returned to the fray, but the Bude defence was unable to realign sufficiently to prevent Callum Stone bursting through under the posts. He then converted his own try to take his own personal points tally to 12 for the day.
With a five point deficit, Bude looked disorganised and dispirited, and feeble tackling allowed Tiverton second-row Tom Skelding to bullock his way through the Bude defence and the subsequent quick ball saw full-back James Newman race over for another try that was converted to give Tiverton a healthy 24-12 lead.
The feeling on the touchline was that defeat was nigh, but spectators are often wrong and this proved to be the case. Once again Bude raised their game and further forward pressure inspired by replacement Angus Hodges and the ebullient Tully Innes forced Tiverton onto the defensive. Quick ball and smooth passing gave Pearce the space he needed for an incisive break and he was able to feed the flying Denford who planted the ball firmly under the posts. Pearce converted and Bude were only five points in arrears at 24-19 down. With the bit between their teeth, Bude then played their best rugby of the season. A series of strong rucks and powerful running by centre Andy Yates was rewarded when Hodges ran strongly to score a converted and bonus point try.
With nine minutes remaining Bude had a slender two point lead and hearts were in mouths as Tiverton made inroads into the home defence forcing an attacking five-metre scrum. Now the redoubtable Bude front five came into their own, shoving Tiverton off their ball and when the scrum was reset repeating the dosage giving them the opportunity to clear their lines led by another piercing intervention from Pearce at full-back. From there Bude were able to successfully see out the game.
This bonus point win, which moved them out of the bottom three, could be a defining moment in Bude’s season especially if they can take this form to fellow strugglers Burnham in two weeks’ time in a match which will give them a golden chance to end their winless run on the road.
Bolt, Cook, Jeffery, Kingdon, Williams, Vincent (C), Hilliam-Cooke, Comber; Mounce, Watton, Horwill, Yates, Trewin, Denford, Pearce
Subs: Dicker, Innes, Hodges
Tries: penalty try, Horwill, Denford, Hodges
Cons: Pearce 2, Denford
Buller, Reed (C), Simmons, Jones, Skelding, King, Vickery, Down; Preece, Stone, Howells, Lewis, Heard, Griffin, Newman
Subs: Payne, Roper, Blake
Tries: Howells, Stone, Newman
Convs: Stone 3