Dogged defence earned Ilfracombe a 21-3 Devon One win over a battling Buckfastleigh side.

Ilfracombe v Buckfastleigh Ramblers in Devon One. Picture: Rob NewallIlfracombe v Buckfastleigh Ramblers in Devon One. Picture: Rob Newall

After establishing a 14-3 lead at the break, Combe were made to defend for most of the second half. The line held firm, much to the delight of team manager John Bates.

"This was a gutsy and professional performance by the lads," said Bates.

"If we're honest, we have played far better this season as this was nowhere near as fluent as we have been.

"But we ground out the win despite that, and that's the mark of a good team.

Ilfracombe v Buckfastleigh Ramblers in Devon One. Picture: Rob NewallIlfracombe v Buckfastleigh Ramblers in Devon One. Picture: Rob Newall

"We had so much defending to do in the second half, and earlier in the season we might have conceded points and gone on to lose the game.

"We kept them pointless for the whole second 40 and even managed to stretch our lead, which shows how far we've come."

A mistake from the kick-off led to Combe conceding an early penalty, allowing Buckfastliegh to take a 3-0 lead. From there on it was one-way traffic for the rest of the half.

Ilfracombe's rolling maul did untold damage and, after the pack had gained yards and created space, fly-half Dermot Dalton was able to dance through gaps in the splintered defence for two tries. Both were converted by full-back Rob Holmes for a 14-3 half-time lead.

Playing down the slope and with the wind in the second half gave Buckfastleigh momentum as they enjoyed more territory and possession after the break.

Combe defended stubbornly, with the loose forwards excelling at the breakdown to produce turnovers and disrupt the visitors' attacks.

The boys in blue had to defend even more manfully when captain Nigel East was sent to the bin, followed soon after by Holmes.

With 10 minutes to go and only 14 men on the field, Combe broke away thanks to a chip and chase from scrum-half Jamie Johnston. He turned over the ball which had been gathered by the Bucks full back, then fed centre James Ager to touch down under the posts. Dalton added the extras and the game was safe.

Ilfracombe make the long trip to Dartmouth this Saturday.

Torrington, who had no game last Saturday, are at home to Old Technicians in Devon One.