Cockles colts win well at Exeter
PUBLISHED: 18:08 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:08 21 February 2018
Recent downpours had left Exmouth’s second pitch unavailable so the long awaited home fixture against near neighbours Exeter Youth was played at Oil Mill Lane, writes Ian Urmston.
Despite starting in bright sunshine the ground was wet underfoot. Exeter had not played much rugby since the Christmas break, but started quickly and pressed the Exmouth defence in a series of attacks.
The defence stood firm, but was pressurised by some poor exit decisions. Play swung back and forth with the Exeter full back making the most of his kick returns as the visitors’ chasers fell of some tackles.
The hosts had some very strong forwards and made the most of their weight advantage in powerful driving mauls and short breaks around the ruck.
The work rate of the Exmouth defence was good and it kept the opposition at bay, but Exeter looked dangerous up front and countered the Exmouth maul effectively.
An early tackle at one ruck was punished with a yellow card as Seagar earned himself an unwelcome break.
But before he left Exmouth’s line out and scrum dominance saw Cockles move up the left touchline and, following some catch and drive work, Clarke went over for an unconverted try.
Exeter’s hard work ground them forward to the Exmouth line before half-time and the scores were even at the break.
The second half became a bit of a dogfight as running wide often led to handling errors as the conditions were against this style of play.
Exmouth had clear territorial dominance in the second period, but couldn’t quite get over the line and ground the ball.
This must have pleased the Exeter coaches as it was a reflection on the Exeter players’ commitment to defend their line.
The pressure they applied made Exmouth rush their plans too often and a calm head was needed to reduce the errors which were creeping into the Cockles’ game at the line out and to bring sets of forward runners and latching into the game more frequently. Unfortunately for the host team a yellow card left them one player light in this crucial period.
It looked like a share in the points might be all that Exmouth, the league leaders, could get from the game until stand-off Ottoway in a moment of composure spotted a gap and danced right and left and forced his way over the line.
The try was scored near to the posts and he added the extra two points to give Exmouth a 12-5 lead. This lead was extended with a penalty a little later in the half to put a bit of breathing space between the sides.
Following the last restart Exeter managed to keep play in the Exmouth half for the remaining minutes of the game, but a turnover in their 22 yard area gave Exmouth a chance to kick to touch and end the game with a win and honours, over the two league fixtures of the season, even.
In what had been an excellent match, the young Cockles played with great heart and the coaches were unable to choose a Man of the Match from the many outstanding performances.