Cockles stand firm to pass student examination
PUBLISHED: 13:46 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:46 18 September 2018
Exmouth produced a fine all-round performance to end one of three remaining 100 per cent starts to the new South West Premier League when they defeated Exeter University 31-24.
The Cockles, keen to get back to winning ways after their disappointment at Drybrook seven days previously, spurned an early opportunity to open the scoring when a Tom Whelan penalty effort drifted wide in the blustery conditions.
The students took advantage and scored a ninth minute try, but parity was swiftly restored when Dave Bargent crossed the line and a successful Whelan conversion saw the Cockles into a 7-5 lead.
A second try from the students and a penalty from Whelan took the contest to 10-all before, on 31 minutes, a Sam Richardson try and a conversion from Whelan saw the Cockles into a 17-10 advantage.
Both side lost a player to a yellow card in the latter stages of the first half and the players trooped off at the break with those seven points separating them.
Whatever was said during the break in the Cockles dressing room, it clearly worked for the home side came flying out at the start of the second half, scoring two tries in the opening 12 minutes through Jack Downie and debut playing Sam Whitehead. Both tries were converted by the trusty boot of Whelan and, at 31-10, some of the home faithful would, have been forgiven for thinking the job was done!
However, the students clearly thought otherwise and two tries in quick time, one of them converted, altered the score to one of 31-24 to the home side.
The Cockles suffered another sin bin leaving them to play out the final 10 minutes with 14 men.
Well-constructed play form both teams kept the audience entertained and it was the University who exerted the pressure to find a score to force a potential draw. The closing stages were heart wrenching times for the large crowd who watched the Cockles put in a no fear, confident and ultimately, winning performance.
The final act of the day went to the ladies from ERFC Juniors who presented scrum-half Matt Ryan with the Man of the Match award.