Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Barnstaple 18, Exmouth 34
The Cockles completed a season’s derby double thanks to a clinical second half performance on a very sticky North Devon surface.
Matt Garner stepped into a starting with Adam Higgins also included in what looked a relatively settled side.
The home side made a positive start and the Cockles were penalised in the opening exchanges with Barum slotting the resultant penalty.
Andrew Powell responded with a penalty for the Cockles as the visitors began to look threatening in the final third.
Despite the lively approach from the Cockles they lacked a dominance that many had expected them to be enjoying in the fixture.
Barum enjoyed the upper hand in the set piece and asked questions of the Cockles defence.
After winning clean possession full back John Fabian ghosted his way through the home ranks before producing a sublime one-handed pass that sent winger Garner clear to score out wide, but the Powell conversion drifted wide.
The home team, cheered on by a large crowd, responded well and, all too often, the Cockles fell foul of the match official.
Barnstaple scored a converted try through former Plymouth Albion second row Tom Skelding as a gap opened up in midfield and they followed that with a penalty three minutes later.
With the half almost over Exmouth took play just metres from the home try line, only to be denied a try as the Barum number eleven came in off-side conceding just a penalty which could have been punished more harshly|!
The Exmouth set piece failed to deliver and the hosts cleared their line and the half was over.
The Cockles began the second half with a higher tempo, playing deep in the visitors half. Garry Hooper, breaking in-field, took several would-be tacklers with him before reaching out to score his side’s second try and Powell added the extras to out the visitor’s two points up.
The Cockles forwards began to assert their authority, bossing the contact area, taking the game to the home side.
Setting up one attack after another it was a quick moving maul that powered over the Barum line with number-eight Dave Kimberley coming up from the bottom of the pile with the try! Powell added the easy extras.
Now in the ascendancy, Exmouth went in search of a bonus point try and the large travelling support were not to be disappointed!
James Harris and George Savage, both tireless in the loose, linked well as the ball was moved across the pitch before more quick hands ended with tom Kill crossing, but the Powell conversion dropped just short.
Barnstaple looked out on their feet and, when Matt Ryan took play to within metres of the line, the forwards kept the ball tight. Bob Armstrong sensed a gap at the base and crashed over to score. Powell slotting the difficult conversion to make it 34-13, with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Late on the hosts threw caution to the wind and were rewarded with a late unconverted consolation try.
With the clock ticking down, from the restart Exmouth kept hold of the ball before kicking into touch and signalling another maximum five-point league victory.
On Saturday the Cockles are set to host Redingensians at the Imperial Ground for the third time of asking in a game that could have a major impact on both teams’ aspirations for the season.