Exmouth Cockles score four tries as they are edged out at Exeter Saracens
- Credit: Archant
Exmouth Colts still sit top of their division, despite a narrow 24-22 defeat at Exeter Saracens.
A four-try bonus point and losing bonus point were not really just reward for the tremendous effort put in by the young Cockles, who dominated the first half with the home side unable to keep pace with the tempo of the visitors’ play.
The hosts, playing with three Devon Under-18 players in their side, and sporting a much bigger set of forwards, were expected to dominate the set pieces and carry hard into the Cockles.
However, despite only having a bare minimum of eight forwards on the day and some not playing in their usual positions, the Exmouth pack actually pushed the home side’s heavier pack back at every scrum, a ploy which gave the Cockles’ backs the opportunity to run the ball fast and wide.
The opening Exmouth score arrived when scrum half Stewart Masters spotted Charlie Mears outside him at a ruck, close to the touchline and, when given the ball, Mears crossed in corner. Saracens hit back when, from a penalty, they kicked long and from a very well-taken five-metre lineout, they drove over for an unconverted try.
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The Cockles were soon back on the front foot and full back Bertie Hughes crossed the whitewash, but, once again, the conversion was missed.
A third Cockles try was scored by Tom Pengelly, who got up to take the conversion, but saw the ball come back off the upright!
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Just before the break a converted try for Saracens meant that the Cockles took a narrow 15-12 lead into half-time.
An encouraging team talk at half-time ensured Exmouth maintained the game plan and moved the ball at every opportunity.
However, Sarries tried to keep things tight and used their big ball carriers well, punching big holes in the Exmouth defence.
The Cockles’ were up to the task though, and, when awarded a penalty, quick-thinking from full back Hughes saw him tap and go, evading all attempts to tackle him until he was in clear space.
Then, when he was tackled about 10 metres out, he was able to off-load to Ryan White who scored the fourth try for his side.
Sadly, it was still not enough to bring match victory for the Cockles as two late tries, one of them converted, gave the hosts the win and left the Cockles ruing their earlier missed conversions.