Cockles see off Maidenhead to sit top of the South West Premier table

PUBLISHED: 22:09 23 September 2019

Action from the Cockles 32-30 home win over Maidenhead. Picture ERFC

Action from the Cockles 32-30 home win over Maidenhead. Picture ERFC

Archant

Exmouth were excellent value for their 32-30 Imperial Ground win over Maidenhead.

Action from the Cockles 32-30 home win over Maidenhead. Picture ERFCAction from the Cockles 32-30 home win over Maidenhead. Picture ERFC

Before the game the general belief was that two powerful sides would serve up a special contest - the teams did just that!

Indeed, the Cockles did not seal their success until the dying embers of a compelling contest for it was Maidenhead who had held the advantage for long periods.

The visitors, who pitched up in Exmouth sporting a perfect, played two and win two, record this season, scored first through a Will Runciman penalty, but 13 minutes later parity was restored with a penalty from George Meadows.

The early stages were dominated direct and solid defence from both teams, but attack was a clear directive from two well-matched sides.

Exmouth lost centre Nick Headley to an injury early and that led to Dan Sanders making his first team debut off the bench.

Sanders was a late addition to the matchday squad following an injury to Sam Whitehead before the game.

The Cockles were also hampered by a 10-minute sin-bin spell for centre Alex Goldman. After a period of full-blooded rugby ding-dong rugby, Maidenhead took charge with another Runciman penalty and tries from Scott Prince and former Exmouth player, Joe Parkin, one converted, to leave them leading 18-3 after 35 minutes.

Exmouth had given as good as they had got for much of the first half and it was no more than they deserved when power from the Exmouth forward pack led to the Cockles bagging a scrum penalty try right on half-time and the teams trooped off at the break with Maidenhead holding an 18-10 lead.

The second half began with the Cockles looking determined to find a way back into the contest and they began the second period with the breeze at their backs.

George Meadows reduced the gap to 13-18, with a well taken penalty.

However, from the resultant re start, an error from Exmouth handed a try scoring opportunity that Maidenhead skipper Myke Parrott took and the visitors led 23-13.

It was clear that the Cockles had the upper hand in the scrums and knew they had the ability and nous to shape the end to this game.

It was from an outstanding move that the home side began their comeback.

A lovely kick chase from centre Jacob Unwin was gathered by left wing pace-man Lewis Geran who crossed the whitewash.

The conversion from Meadows hit the outside of the upright, but, driven on by the home crowd, the Cockles began to build momentum.

The power of Exmouth meant that Maidenhead were reduced to 14 men following a yellow card to prop Sam Rawsthorne.

On 63 minutes, an assured performance from youngster Dan Armstrong at blind-side flanker was capped with a try, converted by Meadows and for the first time on the afternoon, the Cockles led at 25-23.

Things got even better when more forwards power drew another penalty try and the Cockles stretched their lead to 32-23.

A couple of minutes remaining on the clock there was still time for a final twist when Maidenhead number eight Dave Cole barreled over with the extras added by Will Runciman, but that was as good as it got for the visitors and the final whistle was greeted with great cheers from the home faithful.

Exmouth will now heads to Newbury Blues on Saturday (September 28) and the South West Premier divisional table-toppers.

South West Premier table

P W D L F A Pts

Exmouth 3 2 1 0 125 71 12

Exeter University 3 2 0 1 142 86 12

Maidenhead 3 2 0 1 102 92 12

Weston-super-Mare 3 2 0 1 83 65 18

Barnstaple 2 2 0 0 83 18 10

Drybrook 3 2 0 1 74 72 10

Camborne 3 2 0 1 64 66 9

Okehampton 3 1 0 2 69 67 6

Brixham 3 1 0 2 64 102 5

Newbury Blues 3 0 0 3 73 104 3

Ivybridge 1 0 0 1 17 17 2

Launceston 2 0 0 2 36 130 1

Bracknell 2 0 0 2 24 66 0

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