Cockles score four tries in fine home win over Weston
PUBLISHED: 15:27 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 27 September 2018
Exmouth made it three successive home wins at the start of a new South West Premier season as they defeated Weston-super-Mare 27-13.
However, the final score does not tell the whole story of an engaging afternoon of rugby at the Imperial ground. For the opening 28 minutes the Cockles had defended resolutely against an onslaught from the visiting side. It was a testament to improved defensive work that Weston had only kicked two penalties to lead 6-0 at that stage.
The Cockles, who had several enforced changes from the previous week’s team, always looked like they had the beating of their visitors; however, they could not turn possession into points in the early stages.
Playing against the strong, swirling breeze and driving rain, George Meadows slotted a 33rd minute penalty to send the sides into the break with just three points between them.
However, once again, the half-time break proved pivotal for what had clearly been a period of calm reflection on what needed to be improved upon. Another excellent home crowd saw the Cockles restart with renewed drive and determination.
Indeed, the second half was just 60 seconds old when Henry Goldson bagged the first of his two tries. The conversion from Meadows was missed, but the Cockles were ahead for the first time in the contest at 8-6.
Five minutes later, as the intensity of the home play continued, Will Ridout crossed the whitewash after some great work from the forwards. This time the boot of Meadows found its range and the conversion took the home side into a 15-7 lead.
Weston were clearly here, intent to play their part and their overall performance across the 80 minutes certainly belied their lowly league position and, with an individual piece of skill, they were able to grab a converted try back to close the score to 15-13 with just 12 minutes of the second half gone. It was clear, at this stage, to a crowd getting increasingly soaked, that there was more to come – from both sides!
On 65 minutes Goldson showed class and strength to score his second try, this time crossing out wide and the Meadows kick bisected the uprights to take the Cockles into a 22-13 lead.
Weston, however, continued to work hard, but it was the home forwards who put in the hard yards, ultimately looking fitter as the game went on.
Although disrupted at scrum time, in the first half, the front row of Nick Halse, Will Ridout, Shane Cooper, George Savage and Liam Cullen worked to get on top of their opposition.
On 74 minutes, Weston missed a penalty that might have made the crowd nervous. However, any home angst was removed when Nick Headley, off the bench, went over on 78 minutes for the bonus point fourth try and, although the breeze took the Meadows conversion effort wide, the contest was over with the Cockles deserved winners.
It was the character of the players that fashioned the win, in challenging conditions. In what had certainly been a real team effort, match sponsors Plumb Centre of Exmouth opted for tight head Shane Cooper for the Man of the Match award.
On Saturday (September 29), the Cockles visit Ivybridge. Having won their last season 40-29, the Cockles will be keen to land their first away win of the new season. However, their task is made all the more difficult by two factors. One, the ‘Bridgers’ now play their matches at home on a new RFC all-weather surface, and two, the home side go into the game as one of just two sides in the South West Premier Division to still sport a 100 per cent record this early season.