BIDEFORD are off the top of the Western Counties division following a 30-27 defeat at St Austell.

Bideford had gone 33 league games without defeat before running into Okehampton seven days earlier – and it seemed they were suffering a hangover for the first 40 minutes.

It did not help that Bideford travelled with seven changes to the side and were without their entire first-choice front row.

St Austell were 20 points up in as many minutes and led 30-7 at half time.

Bideford woke up in the second half and had Ollie Wickett been on target with an ambitious penalty in the last minute could have snatched a draw. The kick fell short and St Austell were able to clear the danger.

St Austell took control with tries from Mark Martin, Matt Shepherd and Sam Tank.

Shepherd converted all three tries and a penalty hat-trick.

Richard Allen was the Bideford try scorer in the first half, Wickett converted from dead ahead.

Wickett landed a penalty as Bideford woke up. Chris Snell added a try, Wickett kikedd the conversion then a penalty to make it 30-20 with 20 minutes to go,.

It got really interesting after Sam Olde darted through the centre to score on 61 minutes. Wickett’s conversion left three points in it and made for a tense finale.

Bideford make way for Okehampton at the top of the table.

Tavistock are the visitors to King George this Saturday in the Devon Intermediate Cup.

BIDEFORD Nomads won a highly entertaining home battle against Tiverton IIIs 17-16, but only after defending resolutely in the final quarter.

Whilst the hosts kept their noses in front throughout the game there was never more than a score between two sides determined in their quest for victory.

Shaun Woodhead put in another awesome performance. He scored one try, converting that plus another by the lively Harry Waters and clinched the points with a penalty.

Waters’ game finished early with a head injury. Having lost consciousness, will be badly missed over the coming weeks.

The pack, as always, made the hard yards with veteran props Peter Seward and Richard Squire leading from the front and Darren Palmer orchestrating the line-outs.

A penalty for both sides was the only additions to the half time scoreline.