Bideford Chiefs 23 - 7 Keynsham
A nervous opening 10 mins stretched to 15 then 20 with neither side capable of stringing together any sustained cohesive passages of play, due to their inability to hold on to passes (this “dropsy” was to continue throughout the game, leading to a stop/start afternoon where the ref’s whistle was in danger of running out of pea!).
When Keynsham were marched back 10 metres due to an inappropriate remark made to the ref following a penalty award, full back Chris Snell put the home side 32 points up. At 30 minutes skipper Jack Weston was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and the rest of the team did well to knuckle down and defend like trojans denying Bideford any opportunity to further advance their lead.
The second half saw the introduction of Rob Breckon and Matt Coghlan for Kit Timmis and Phil Harvey together with the return of Weston. Jack’s return was short lived as in the first minute he damaged his ankle; he tried to carry on but was substituted, replaced by Tom Lewis. The reserve hooker slotted in at blind side wing forward, Caleb Flannel moving to No 8. A scrum infringement penalty converted by Snell followed putting the Chiefs 6 points clear. A pin point cross kick from No 10 Sean East enabled winger Pete Bowes to score, converted by Snell and the score was 13-0.
A break by stand-off Joe Davis made inroads for the visitors but his pass to the supporting Tom Lewis was dropped. Keynsham then had a penalty shot which was just wide from Sam Challenger. Keynsham were putting some fluency into their play at this stage but were further disrupted by an injury to Brad Newton, replaced at wing forward by winger Timmis; nevertheless, they got what was to be their only try after a break by Davis and Lewis was again there supporting and this time held on to the pass to tear over from 15 metres. Challenger’s conversion bringing the score to 13-7. Bideford replied immediately with a drop goal from East following a turnover, 16-7.
Ben Angell and Rueben Edwards were the next on the injured list and were replaced by Harvey and a one-legged Weston. The pack changes proved significant as what had been the slightly better eight at set pieces in the first half were decidedly out played in the second. A 12-man maul from a 5-metre line out was repelled by the visitors but the scrum was under great pressure and conceded a penalty try (23-7). There then came the highlight of Keynsham’s day; what appeared to be the only one on the field who knew that penalty tries no longer had to be converted, Gaz Bradnock, grabbed the ball, sprinted to the hallway line and drop-kicked deep into The Bideford half. Great stuff, but rotten kick! Too long by a few feet his reward was just a 22 re-start and unfortunately within seconds the same player was responsible for an Eeyore moment, “fresh airing” a kick and tripping up. Hey Ho. The game finished 23-7 and no league points for Keynsham.
Both sets of supporters agreed that their respective teams could have played better but Bideford’s hospitality was of the highest quality – thank you.