Cockles slip closer to South West Premier basement after home defeat to Newbury Blues

PUBLISHED: 10:24 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:24 13 January 2020

The Cockles pack in the thick of the action during the home meeting with Newbury Blues. Picture EXMOUTH RFC

The Cockles pack in the thick of the action during the home meeting with Newbury Blues. Picture EXMOUTH RFC

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Exmouth suffered a disappointing home defeat when beaten by a margin of just three points, going down 20-17 to Newbury Blues at the Imperial Ground.

Charlie Tribble scores the Cockles first try in the narrow defeat at home to Newbury Blues. Picture: ERFCCharlie Tribble scores the Cockles first try in the narrow defeat at home to Newbury Blues. Picture: ERFC

The visitors made a bright start and had good field position in the opening eight minutes, but were thwarted by some good aggressive defence.

In the ninth minute, the Cockles put together their first multi-phase attack with backs and forwards involved and the play resulted in a penalty that was kicked to the corner where another penalty resulted in a lineout maul and, when the ball was driven over, Charlie Tribble had scored the games opening try.

The very next Cockles' raid was a carbon copy of the first try scoring attack and good interplay resulting in a penalty which was again arrowed to the corner where, once again a maul ensued and a second try was scored - 'ugly' to some, but 'beautiful' to the purist - the try scorer was Dan Armstrong and George Meadows tucked over the conversion to see the home side into a 12-0 lead.

There began a period in the contest where it ebbed and flowed, but was littered with mistakes and, when Newbury gained field position, a penalty was awarded in the 22, and they took the three points to get their section of the score board ion the move.

From the restart the kick did not got the mandatory 10 metres and, from the subsequent scrum Newbury kicked into clubhouse corner.

The Cockles claimed the lineout, but an error at ruck was turned over, and, after a few phases a penalty was awarded.

Newbury decided to tap and, four phases later a wide pass and a good line beat an over pushing defender and the visitors converted their try to close the gap to just two points at 12-10.

The Cockles hit back, finished the half strongly, and, with good phase play with plenty of penalties awarded as the move progressed, and it ended with a kick to the corner and a terrific forwards try with Steve Pape taking the ball over the whitewash and the home side were able to troop off at the interval sporting a 17-10 advantage.

Exmouth started the second half well, with multiphase rugby, but a few mistakes in the Newbury 22 released pressure on the visiting ranks.

Finally, a penalty in the Newbury 22 occurred, but this time a scrum was taken, but, after a few phases, a knock-on occurred and the opportunity to add further points was lost.

With half an hour to go, from a scrum, a long kick from 22 to 22 resulted bizarrely in the Newbury fullback beating the kick chase and then the first tackle was made back in the Exmouth 22!

From the ensuing 'panic', Exmouth were reduced to 14 men by a yellow card and the visitors took advantage, scoring a penalty to close to within four points.

Straight away Exmouth attacked and with real quality, once again getting into the Newbury 22. However, and frustratingly for the home side, a knock-on was the final product of a promising move.

The next major incident was a yellow card for Exmouth on their own 10 metre line following a period of Newbury phase play.

The visitors continued to press the play into the Cockles half and, with eight minutes remaining, a kick was charged down resulting in a penalty 20 metres out in front of the posts.

Newbury decided to tap and go and, when they won another penalty they targeted the corner and, following one more penalty and a prolonged period of pressure three metres out near the right touch, ended their move with a quick tap followed by two phases prior to a well-finished try in the corner. That edged the visiting side into a single point lead, an advantage they extended with a successful conversion.

The Cockles hit back with real intent and the final four minutes of the contest were spent in the Newbury 22 where a number of penalties were awarded. The home pressure continued right to the end and the final action of the match saw the Cockles held up just short of the line.

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