Cockles rise to the challenge to claim much-needed win at Okehampton
PUBLISHED: 07:49 20 January 2020
The Cockles were good value for a much-needed success when they won 15-13 at Okehampton and so completed a South West Premier double over their Devon rivals.
Heading into the game, even the most ardent Cockles follower must have had some trepidation as their side had lost nine of their last 11 outings while Okehampton had beaten every team that had visited them this season tom date.
However, the Cockles, who played some excellent rugby throughout, thoroughly deserved to win the match, with the defensive unit proving to be something of a 'brick wall' to the home team!
Okehampton opened the scoring with a fourth minute Dan Fogerty penalty, but the Cockles response was as clinical as it was swift with Matt Ryan crossing in the corner for the games first try.
The conversion attempt, albeit from a wide angle, was missed by George Meadows, but 12 minutes later Meadows arrowed a penalty between the uprights to see the Cockles into an 8-3 lead.
The contest became end-to-end with both sides fashioning scoring opportunities, but both defences were commanding until the home side broke through with Ryan Lee scoring a try.
With 41 minutes played a yellow card for George Meadows saw him take a 10 minute break from the action. Okehampton piled on the pressure and, after being repelled by some terrific defensive work, winger Ryan found a gap to cross for his second try, again unconverted, but the home side were able to take a 13-8 lead into the interval.
What had been clear during the first half was that Exmouth clearly had the forward power and it came to the fore after the break to set a base for several attacks, up the slope.
Sam Whitehead, who moved from full-back to the number 10 berth during the absence of Meadows, managed the task well.
However, both defences were again doing their work well, but a yellow card to Okehampton's Tom MaGratton was followed by some more forwards dominance from the Cockles and, after several strong drives, Dave Bargent powered over for a try and a successful conversion from George Meadows took the Cockles into a 15-13 l3 lead.
Okehampton then picked up a second yellow card to lose the services of Buster Francis.
Across the final 15 minutes, the Cockles looked to kill off Okehampton challenge by controlling the phases well and this had the home team scratching around for possession and, when they did get the ball, the Cockles defence was first class. In the final seconds the home team were still pressing, but again the defence was equal to it and a kick to touch by scrum half James Bath brought and end to a fine contest.
Cockles skipper, Jack Fahy, back in the ranks after recovering from injury, was cleary delighted with the effort and commitment from his squad.
This Saturday (January 25), the Cockles will seek to end a run of four successive, if narrow, home defeats, when they entertain Drybrook.