Cockles show quality as Chippenham are beaten at home.
PUBLISHED: 21:04 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:04 13 March 2013
Chippenham 15, Exmouth 19
The Cockles were good value for a hard-fought success at a ground where promotion chasing rivals Weston-super-Mare had been beaten seven days before.
Exmouth started brightly, but it needed some excellent defence from flankers Dave Bargent and James Harris to deny an early onslaught from the hosts.
Chippenham, with great vocal home support, played to their strengths using their bulky forwards to good effect and their early industry was rewarded with a try for number-nine Lewis Surry, converted by Chris Simmons.
The Cockles came straight back on the attack, breaking the line on several occasions yet failing to capitalise and score.
With twenty five minutes gone Exmouth eventually got their just reward; Lloyd Morgan and Matt Ryan taking play deep into the hosts 22 before slipping a pass to Jon Fabian who crashed over, but Andrew Powell’s conversion pulled wide to leave the Cockles trailing by two points.
The game then became one of end-to-end action through to half time and into the second half.
The next score arrived in the 50th minute. Playing deep in the Chippenham half, the Cockles took play one way then the other with Bargent taking on several defenders as he made progress.
Tackled just metres short, quick ball saw live-wire winger Matt Ryan dive over in the corner. Powell kicked a great touch line conversion to put the Cockles into a 12-7 lead.
Exmouth, who seemed to be the wrong side of the official throughout the game, lost scrum half Garry Hooper to the sin-bin, the number-nine could feel hard done by as it appeared a very harsh call!
Chippenham kicked the resulting penalty to get to within two points of the Cockles total.
Playing a man down seemed to galvanise Exmouth and they looked by far the stronger of the two sides, spending long periods in the opposition half.
Fabian pegged the hosts back with pin-point kicks whilst the Cockles forwards rocked the home defence time and time again.
Awarded a five-metre scrum, Stu Lowe returned to beef up the Cockles front five, and moments later, with Ryan moved into the number-nine berth, the-wing-come-scrum-half crossed for a try.
Powell again added the extras to put the Cockles two scores clear.
Chippenham failed to roll over, and with a series of penalties took play deep into the Cockles 22.
Here again the Cockles fell foul of the official and the hosts took full advantage scoring a try which went unconverted.
Minutes remained and cheered on by their home support the hosts felt another upset was on the cards.
However, Exmouth remained composed and pushed play deep into the Chippenham half. Awarded a penalty as Fabian was tackled late, the full back kicked the penalty into the corner.
From the line-out, which was the last play of the game, the Cockles forwards were only a metre or two away from a bonus point try.
Chippenham repelled the attack, and, with the maul breaking up Hooper kicked the ball off the field to ensure the win and another four points in the league campaign.
This Saturday the Cockles face a long trip on the road to improving Amersham and Chiltern, in a game postponed from earlier in the season due to heavy snow.
The Cockles again miss several regular starters and will test the squad to the full.
A win would see the Exmouth outfit secure second spot with just four games remaining.