Cockles disappoint in first of seasons home Devon derbies
20:18 11 September 2012
Exmouth 15, Newton Abbot 19
National League rugby kicked off at the Imperial ground on Saturday with the visit of Newton Abbot in the first of three Devon derbies that will grace the Cockles home fixture list.
With an opening day victory behind them the Cockles squad looked in fine form to deliver a home win.
They had a strong side selected and fine weather which contributed to the early optimism, alas the clouds of defeat were gathering and the home side can have little to complain about running out second best with a below par performance.
Newton. if not blessed in any creative desire showed a dogged determination that was lacking in the Cockles.
The visitors took an early lead with a Rob Avery Wright penalty as they came out all guns blazing, alas one gun miss fired seeing Matt Templeman sent to the sin bin early on for overuse of the boot.
Without getting any real flow going in the opening 20 minutes the Cockles were the first to touchdown. The exceptional hands of George Savage, making a sublime offload to Tom Kill, put the wingman free out wide where three Newton defenders were brushed aside prior to Kill crossing the line.
From the touchline Andrew Powell added the extras.
Newton struck back with another penalty, the Cockles struggling in the lineout and all too often second best in the tackle area, failing to secure quality ball, the halfbacks then struggled and so it went on. With the half drawing to a close the Cockles looked set to score, with several penalty advantages deep in the visitors 22 they had to settle for a Powell penalty and a four point lead at the break.
Avery Wright added a drop goal for the visitors before the Cockles fell foul of the referee losing James Harris to the bin for a team offence, the ruck area continued to be messy which played to the visitors strengths.
Getting decent ball was all too rare, also some poor kicking and passing did not help the Cockles cause.
When the hosts strung phases together they looked dangerous, and one such sweeping move gave Savage a try out wide and the Cockles led 15-9.
On two more occasions, but for a dropped ball or poor pass, the Cockles could have scored again, yet the side looked unsettled by the visitors go forward play.
With just five minutes to go deep in the Cockles half, a well taken Newton lineout allowed Brett Stroud just enough room to crash over by the posts and score a converted try and leave the cockles trailing by a point.
This was stretched to four points with another penalty. Refusing to give in the Cockles almost snatched an unlikely victory, a powerful surge up-field was halted just a metre short, Newton threw everything into defence, the referee on one side of the try line pileup could only see so much and with the resultant slow ball a poor pass slipped to the floor and the challenge was lost.
The Cockles will need to dust themselves down with a visit to Old Patesians in Cheltenham, this is a season which promises much but proves at this level you must perform week in week out whoever the opposition.
Exmouth Quins, Nomads and Colts all beat their respective Newton Abbot counterparts