Rugby returns with some mouth-watering fixtures this weekend
- Credit: Exmouth RFC
Rugby’s back this weekend after the Christmas/New Year break, with Exmouth's 1st XV on a mission to turn performances into points in the first few weeks of 2022.
The Cockles have won only once their last five games, but that form does not tell the story of how well they've played against several of the top sides in a competitive Tribute South West Premier Division.
Exmouth are still in fifth place going into Saturday's trip to Gloucester to take on Old Centralians (10th).
Sidmouth definitely need a lift after losing six and drawing only one of their last seven SW One matches - they meet Newent at Blackmore.
The Cornwall/Devon Division appears to rest between the top-four, covered by eight points and led by Topsham.
They are at home to North Tawton on Saturday, when improving Withycombe (9th) - they enjoyed a successful renewal of the Club-v-Presidents XV game on Boxing Day - also entertain their other local rivals Cullompton (3rd) at Raleigh Park.
Honiton firsts finished their 2021 schedule with a 14-44 defeat at a strong Tiverton side, although the seconds did manage a fantastic 47-13 win over the Tivvy seconds.
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At the highest level of the game, a record crowd of 14,100 fans wacthed Exeter Chiefs battle past local rivals Bristol Bears at Sandy Park.
The Chiefs made the ideal start in a bumper atmosphere, with Tom O’Flaherty notching an excellent early try for the home side. It was a beautiful team move from Exeter, as quick passes from Jack Maunder and Joe Simmonds gave Jack Nowell space for a clever grubber kick.
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg picked up the opportunity and fed winger O’Flaherty for a dive into the corner. Jonny Hill scored from close range before the Bears edged their way back into the game to set up a tense finish.
The inspirational Hogg responded to the challenge, piling over in the closing minutes after some relentless pressure from the Chiefs, who are now fifth in the Gallagher Premiership and travel to third-placed Harlequins on the weekend.