BIDEFORD sit top of the pile in the Western Counties Division after making it three wins on the trot with a 24-23 verdict in a tough encounter at North Petherton.

That is 30 league wins on the bounce for Bideford, but few of them have been so hard earned for the Western Counties new boys.

Petherton were at least a stone heavier per person than Bideford and their size contributed to what was a heart-stopping game for the coach!

Bideford reached half time 17-3 up – and felt they could have done more.

But Petherton came out fighting in the second half and stormed into a 23-17 lead by capitalizing on Bideford’s indiscipline at times.

One last effort saw Bideford work their way into Pethy territory and score the deciding try and conversion.

“It wasn’t our best performance but we got the win in a game that we are glad to get out of the way. The team spirit and the character was immense, every player put everything on the line to get the win and for that I thank them,” said coach Kevin Booth.

Sam Olde dived in for Bideford’s first try, which the reliable Ollie Wickett converted.

It was the Bideford backs who took the next score. Turn-over ball by the tenacious Lee Weston gave the threes a chance to go and James Buckland cut through to score under the posts, Wickett converted and kicked a penalty for 17-3.

North Petherton came out of the starting blocks with a bang after the break. They used their size to work the Bideford pack back and a slight lack of discipline gave penalty after penalty. It was only a matter of time before Petherton were going to score and they did, three times, converting one and landing a penalty to take them in front 23-17.

Bideford regrouped behind the posts after the last score and led by Andy Loosemore and pack leader James Starkey took the game to Petherton.

James O’Sullivan got over, which left Wickett a difficult kick near the touchline in wind and rain. But he slotted it through the posts to give Bideford the victory.

Bideford are at home to Wellington this Saturday.