Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Exmouth 19, London Irish Amateurs 16
For the second time this month National League Rugby at the Imperial ground was played out in awful weather conditions as constant rain and a strong down field breeze put paid to the open flowing rugby that had seen the Cockles secure an emphatic win just seven days before.
The Cockles made a couple of changes to the starting line up; Stu Lowe and George Savage were rested through injury and in came Jack Fahy and Nigel Berry whilst Richard Bolt also started with Garry Hooper moving to the replacements bench.
A positive start by the Cockles’ saw them go ahead in the eighth minute when during early pressure repeated mauls were bought down by the visitors metres from the try line leaving the match official little choice, but to award a penalty try, which Matt Garner converted.
Exmouth had the majority of possession and territory for the next 20 minutes yet failed to register further score.
Disaster struck when a kick downfield was chased back by wing Jack Douglas-Downie and, when he turned the ball was charged down and bounced fortunately into an opponents arms and he sped over for an unconverted try. This score came totally against the run of play!
Exmouth camped in the oppositions 22, but opportunities continued to elude them for the remainder of the half.
London Irish started the second period with gusto and the Cockles ere caught offside.
With a strengthening wind behind the kick it was duly slotted to give the visitors a single point lead.
Exmouth persisted with the big men, working the driving maul and ruck phases to good effect; the visitors often infringing to stop the Cockles and this led to a visit to the sin-bin for their skipper as yet another drive was halted illegally.
Playing to the corners a number of ruck phases and gaining hard yards resulted in a try for second row Chris Bentley, the big man powering over from metres out but the Garner conversion drifted wide. Exmouth continued to work well, yet at times perhaps kick away possession or failed to kill the game off.
London Irish struck back with another successful penalty and the Cockles lead was back to just a single point.
This spurred the home side on with skipper Ross Morsehead, Dan Pullinger and Dave Bargent showing up well.
The rain persisted, but so did the Cockles and a period of sustained battering of the visitors defence led to a catch and drive move infield through numerous phases of play, and, from five metres out, a deft pass to Bargent saw the flanker crash through the defence to score. Garner added the extras for a crucial eight point home point lead.
The visitor’s, to their credit realising they had to score twice through everything at the Cockles, resilient defence thwarting their attacks.
With time added on they got their reward with an unconverted try from the last play to earn a losing bonus point, for the Cockles it was a second win and moved them into the top half of the table after the first month of fixtures. On Saturday the Cockles visit Dings Crusaders who are a side Exmouth have never played as they have always played at a higher level until this year!
Elsewhere at the club Exmouth Colts defeated Honiton 12-8 and to complete a clean-sweep Exmouth Quins beat Launceston 26-17.