Olly Wickett kept his footing in a King George’s Field mudbath to kick Bideford to victory over Cullompton this afternoon.
The fly half landed four penalties in a 17-10 win for the home side.
It brought double joy for Bideford with the result not only earning them four points in Tribute South West One West but also putting them through to the Devon Intermediate Cup semi-finals.
With rearranged fixtures filling up blank weekends, it was decided today’s game would be both a league and county cup fixture.
There was some doubt as to whether it would go ahead but Bideford’s groundstaff worked wonders to get the pitch in something like a playable state.
Even so, the conditions were awful, with the mud-caked players almost unrecognisable after just a few minutes.
It was difficult for them to stay on their feet, let alone hold the ball, but Bideford seemed to cope better. Their back three of Chris Snell, James Buckland and Sam Olde, plus inside centre Luke Hoyle, made some threatening breaks.
But it was in the forwards that the game was won, with Bideford’s pack much stronger at the frequent scrummages.
The home side’s only try came after they secured possession at a scrum in the 16th minute. Recycling the ball well, they worked it across to the right with good handling for outstanding prop George Snell to power over in the corner.
There were two let-offs, with Alex Ford and Andrew Isaac both losing their grip on the ball when well placed, but Wickett kicked his first penalty after a block on Olde by Alex Brooks, which saw the Cullompton fly half sin-binned.
Leading 8-0, Bideford finished the first half pressing for a second try.
Adam Pearce got the first points of the second half with a 44th-minute penalty for Cullompton, but Bideford dominated the next half an hour and the points mounted alongside the visitors’ penalty count.
Wickett cancelled out Pearce’s effort just three minutes later. Then, after a series of scrums that must have put the thought of a penalty try in the referee’s mind, the fly half kicked another penalty from in front of the posts.
Wickett was a fraction wide with one more attempt on 68 minutes but, a minute later, backchat from Cullompton saw a scrum for a knock-on changed to a penalty and he put Bideford well clear at 17-3.
It seemed like the game was over, but Cullompton’s tails were up when Sam Harris touched down from a catch and drive in the 77th minute and Pearce added the conversion from wide on the left.
However, as they mounted one last attack down the right wing, they were forced into touch and Bideford could celebrate on three counts. Not only was it a league and cup win, it was also their second victory over Cullompton this season.
With Wadebridge Camels this week deducted five points for referee abuse, Bideford are now a point clear of the relegation zone with two games in hand.
In Western Counties West, Bude won for the first time in eight attempts, beating Okehampton 24-22.
Barnstaple’s match at Worcester Wanderers in National League Three South West was postponed yesterday. The Barnstaple Development XV ran out 41-0 winners over Torquay Athletic II at Pottington Road.
In a club match at Donnacroft, Torrington beat South Molton 3-0.
South Molton remain six points clear at the top of the Devon One table after Topsham lost 21-0 at home to Salcombe.
Ilfracombe’s home game against Tamar Saracens in Devon Two was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.