Bideford’s search for a first point in Tribute South West One West continues after a 13-5 home defeat to Chard.
But this afternoon they came the closest yet to breaking their duck as Sam Olde, with a potential try, and Stefan James, from a dropped-goal attempt, nearly snatched a losing bonus point.
For a while at King George’s Field it looked as though Bideford were heading for an even heavier defeat than the 38-12 loss they suffered in their first home game against St Austell.
But, helped by yellow cards for Chard’s Joe Massey and Matt Lovesy, they worked hard to battle back into contention.
Bideford barely saw the ball for the first 20 minutes and fell 13-0 behind to a Chard side who were dominating in the forwards and had Chris Doak pulling the strings with an impressive display at fly half.
Doak kicked a sixth-minute penalty then, after a series of rucks virtually on the Bideford try line, centre Neil Douglas overlapped to score in the left corner.
On 18 minutes, Doak made a fine break after a scrum and fed Brian Harrison who sprinted down the right wing and knocked James Buckland flying to score Chard’s second try.
But that was to be the last of their points. Doak dropped the ball when a try seemed certain on 22 minutes and Bideford lifted their fans by running the ball out of defence – with a chip and chase from Olde nearly coming off. By the half-hour they were finally enjoying some possession, although they found the wet ball hard to handle all afternoon.
Neil Giddy missed a chance to get some points on the board from a penalty and Bideford were unable to get the ball over the line from close range in the final minutes of the first half.
By that stage Chard wing Massey had been yellow-carded for blocking Olde after the Bideford player had kicked ahead. He only returned after the hosts had scored a try four minutes into the second half.
From a scrum, Buckland, coming off his wing into the centre, picked a superb path through the first line of defence and had the strength to force himself over despite the attention of three tacklers.
When Lovesy was sin-binned for trampling on Jono Mock at a ruck, Bideford must have sensed another chance to close the gap, but they were unable to score while the prop was off the field as Chard’s defence and their own errors kept them out.
In stoppage time Olde hacked on a loose ball in his own 22 and twice more kicked ahead as he outpaced the Chard chasers. But he knocked on with the line in sight after trying to grab the ball and slide over in one movement.
Bideford won the ball from the resulting scrum and it found its way to James but his attempt a dropped goal barely got off the ground.