Bideford’s record finally goes

Joseph Bulmer

BIDEFORD’S 33-game unbeaten league run came to an end at the hands of local rivals Okehampton 16-17 in a thrilling match at the King George V ground.

In all league matches Bideford had not been beaten since the final day of the 2009-2010 campaign, a run run of 33 consecutive victories.

The last team to win at Bideford in the league was Wellington, who beat them 25-12 way back on September 26, 2009 – 27 games earlier.

Bideford knew that Okehampton would be coming to avenge last season’s defeat at Okehampton in the Devon Intermediate Cup semi-finals.

Bideford were treated to a last-minute injury reshuffle after Nathan Giddy (hamstring strain) pulled out. Full-back Chris Snell went into the centre and Richie Allen into full-back.

Bideford had the edge up front in the first half, but out wide Okehampton’s talented backs were being run by fly-half Carl Poynton, who dictated the first score of the match.

Lacklustre Bideford kick chasing led to Okes’ full-back Gareth Espin cruising in under the posts. Poynton converted.

Olli Wickett slotted two penalties from distance to bring Bideford within a point.

The Biddy pack then upped the tempo and used the driven maul to force Oaks back.

Another penalty triggered Wickett to kick to the corner, from where the forwards recycled the ball and a series of pick and drives saw James Starkey crash over in the corner for 11-7 at the break.

Okehampton ran at every opportunity after the restart. Poynton dropped a goal then kicked a penalty before wing Rob Fishlegh put them 17-11 up with a try.

Bideford pressed hard with Jono Mock and George Snell (Man of the match) leading the charge up front.

Matt Dennis came off the bench to score a powerful try in the corner setting up Wickett to win the game with a tricky kick. It was not to be, despite some uncertainty if the ball went through the uprights after deliberation the referee decided it hadn’t.”

Team manager Kevin Booth was philosophical about the result, commenting: “The guys are gutted, they gave it everything to get the win and that is all anyone in the club could ask for.

“The pressure to win is off now and the true character of this team will shine through in the coming weeks.

“We have had some really bad injuries so far and loosing Nathan before the kick off was a real blow, but the guys who stepped in did a good job for us.”

It is St Austell away for Bideford this Saturday. Travelling support will be welcome.