Cockles record back-to-back wins for the second time this season with Drybrook success
PUBLISHED: 12:11 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:11 27 January 2020
Exmouth recorded back-to-back South West Premier wins for the first time since September when they defeated Drybrook 27-22 in a thrilling encounter at the Imperial Ground.
The Gloucester-based visiting side pitched up in Exmouth sitting one place above the Cockles in the table.
It was the home faithful who were cheering first as George Meadows tucked away an early penalty which was no more than the Cockles deserved for their bright and confident start to the contest.
However, for all their early endeavours they were unable to add further points owing to a mix of handling errors and missed opportunities and they found themselves 7-3 down on 15 minutes when Danny Price crossed the try line and Tim Stevenson rifled the conversion between the posts.
Despite falling behind, the Cockles continued to play on the front foot and they were rewarded for their efforts when, after some great individual skill from Meadows and Lewis Geran, they regained the lead.
Geran chased down a deft chip through, but it looked like it was covered by a Drybrook defender, only for Geran to slip through with real pace and touch down before the ball went out of play.
Minutes later Henry Goldson scored the first of a brace of tries, but the Meadows conversion attempt cannoned back off the upright, and, with eight minutes of the first half remaining, the Cockles led 13-7.
A couple of phases later, from just inside his own half, back rower Dave Bargent broke through the Drybrook defence and raced in under the posts. This time the Meadows conversion sailed between the posts and the Cockles trooped off at the break with a 20-7 half-time lead - a healthy position they had held a number of times this season.
The Cockles began the second half with real fizz and energy to their approach, but, once again, a combination of an occasional slip or handling error saw possession surrendered!
The visitors took advantage and tries from Danny Price and Ben Large meant that, with 20 minutes remaining, there was just a single point between the teams.
However, even with such a close score (20-19), the Cockles continued to play with real maturity and confidence.
The interchanging pace of Matt Ryan, James Bath, Nick Headley, Alex Goldman and Jack Downie created a strong link with big forward power as Gareth Walker, James Harris, Connor O'Shaughnessy, Dan Armstrong, Jack Madge and Jack Fahy all made their mark and great lineout possession added to real pace in the backfield.
All this certainly lit up a grey afternoon at the Imperial Ground and it was some inspirational play from Henry Goldson that the final home score of the contest materialised.
Picking up the ball just inside the Drybrook half, Goldson showed real strength and tricky footwork to race through the defence to score under the posts. Meadows tucked over the conversion and now the Cockles held an eight point lead at 27-19.
Most of the final 13 minutes were played out without Meadows, who received a yellow card and, when Tim Stevenson added a penalty for the visitors, the gap between the teams was back to five points at 27-22.
However, if any of the home faithful were beginning to fear the worst, it was not necessary as the experience of Steve Pape, Nick Halse, Charlie Tribble and the rest of the forwards came to the fore as they closed the game down and held out for the bonus point win and five richly deserved points for the Cockles.
This coming Saturday (February 1), the Cockles entertain a Weston-super-Mare side that thrashed them 63-7 when the teams met in Somerset on October 12. Weston were beaten for the first time at home last weekend when they succumbed to 22-17 defeat at the hands of table-topping Barnstaple.