Ellis belies his veteran status with a super show in Exmouth Nomads loss at Engineers
PUBLISHED: 09:27 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:27 05 December 2018
Exmouth Nomads were beaten 22-7 by Exeter Engineers when they pair met at Topsham, writes Rich Haynes.
As is the way with third team rugby, due to availability woes, particularly in the pack, the Nomads team had an unfamiliar look with a number of players playing out of position.
Skipper Richie Guy changed from his regular berth of scrum half to play hooker and veteran back-row Leigh Ellis stepped into the loose-head berth.
Straight from the kick off the Engineers put the Nomads under pressure and threatened to take an early lead. However, the fact they did not get early points on the board was very much down to some outstanding Nomads defensive work!
What was apparent, during the early exchanges, was that the Engineers were well-organised and constantly looked to play with high-tempo to their game, taking full advantage of the clear age difference in the sides!
To a man, the Exmouth line stood firm with some massive defensive hits being put in by the back-row of Aaron Conway, Ash Reid and debut playing Chris Hooper.
When the Engineers did manage to win quick ball for their backs they were also closed down very quickly with the centre partnership of Andrew Smith and Matt Wells marshalling the line superbly.
It was not until the 25th minute that the Nomads line was finally breached with the opposition going through umpteen phases of play, recycling the ball clinically and crossing to the right of the pots. The conversion was good and the home lead was 7-0.
Nomads were dealt a blow when Ash Reid received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, but even being a man down, Nomads were in no mood to buckle and, when Reid returned to the action, he benefitted from some great recycling by the Nomads pack to score a try and, with a successful conversion from Glenn Layton, the scores were tied at 7-7.
The second half continued a similar pattern to the first with the Engineers determined to put width on the ball to try and gain an advantage with their pace.
Sadly for the Nomads, they suffered a number of injuries to the already patched up front five which saw even more disruption to the set piece which ultimately helped the Engineers and it wasn’t long before they took the lead to make the score 12-7. Exmouth showed huge heart and a vast amount of character to ensure that the game didn’t get taken away from them in the early stages of the half.
But with Exmouth putting in such a huge defensive shift in the first half it was always going to tell at some point in the game and during the last ten minutes the game became very ragged with the Engineers scoring two further tries to leave the final score 22-7.
The Nomads can certainly take a number of positives from the game. With one more league game to play before the regular festive break, there’s much to play for. As for the playing awards in the meeting with Engineers, the Night-Shirt was awarded to Ash Reid for picking up a yellow card while the Man of the Match award went to that veteran warrior Leigh Ellis, who not only played out of position in the front row, but also put in a solid performance around the field that belied his ageing years.