Topsham RFC Colts vs Newton Abbot All Whites Colts

20th September 2022

The Colts travelled to Topsham for their first Devon Merit Cup fixture. The first serious fixture of the season was reflected in a strong squad line up. The starting fifteen showed strength and experience with returning second years in both backs and forwards. Despite rumour that much of Topsham’s usual “strength” was away playing for Blundells School, a well drilled and formidable 80 minutes was expected.

The opening quarter showed Newton Abbot intent. The pack, with a 300kg front row, Liverton bred powerhouse, fiendish flanks from the same gene pool and an angry rhino of a No.8 dominated in the set piece and loose to provide plenty platforms from which to release the insanely hard charging backline of Griffin, Pascoe and Rundle.

This pressure was too much for the Topsham, whose defences were punctured 5 times in the opening 30, sadly the two most spectacular were denied as James Glanfield narrowly missed grounding an outstretched dive for the line, while Griffin popped a slightly forward off load to Jack Cox.

However, three unconverted tries did count, placing the Whites ahead 15-5 by half time. A loose ball dot down from Leo Hodges after a boring drive from Juniper opened things up followed by an unstoppable crash ball from inside 5 meters by Ben EJ leaving Topsham fully aware of what tackling an angry grizzly would be like. Sandwiched between this and the hard charging run-round-wide “dot down” from Alex Rundle, Topsham managed to startle the Newton defence with a blindside snipe off a 5-meter line out. Although this seemed to galvanise Topsham’s efforts The Colts defensive shift to keep them out proved their grit equally matched their flare, eventually getting the benefit of a Topsham knock on. The following bedrock solid scrum allowed Holroyd to calmly clear their line.

The second half opened with Topsham running with the tail-wind advantage and Newton resting on their laurels. Topsham provided the wakeup call the Colts needed by successfully picking and driving to the line, which they converted to bring them up to 12 points.

Suitably riled, Newton slowly but surely wound up the turbos in a to-and-fro between 22s battle. Despite their ability to gift the majority of Topsham’s entire second half territorial advantage through the referee’s whistle, the lads kept redressing the balance, by using the full range of their strengths. Solid forward dominance, aggressive line speed and first touch tackling to a man snuffing out every Topsham attempt to run. Forward pods requiring constant attention from Topsham and manimalistic cutting runs from Griffin and Pascoe in the centre meant that the stalemate was broken finally, inevitably, by Ben EJ gathering the ball from the base of a ruck 3 meters out and reminding Topsham’s defence that they would need more than 2 of them to stop him.

Flare play of the day went to the restart after this. Holroyd cleanly caught the deep kick, passed it to Toby Pascoe who swiftly unleashed the Tasmanian devil on the wing. From inside his own half Alex Rundle traced the touchline, stepped two defenders to veer inward, straightened in the centre and, pinning his ears back, held off all chasers to touch under the posts. Conor McKellar did slot this one to bring the tally to 29-12. In the final minutes of the game Newton continued to give the ref concern and Topsham territory until a token Cox was chosen for a yellow card. 90 seconds of play later the whistle blew to give the Colts an opening 5 point win in the Merit Table. The rematch between these two teams will take place next Sunday for the National U18 competition. Let’s see if the boys can reduce the penalty count to assert even more control on Homers, or if the returning Blundels players can tip it their way. The truth will out on the day.

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