Exmouth bag vital win thanks to late Cadywould drop goal
PUBLISHED: 12:34 12 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:34 12 February 2015
In games of fine margins it does not get any closer than the one Exmouth were involved in at the Hutton Moor home of Hornets, writes Chris Wright.
A drop goal two minutes from time gave the Cockles the lead for the first time in the contest, a lead that they held through to the final whistle.
The Cockles endured a dreadful first ten minutes. Knocking-on at the kick-off was a sign of worse to come! From a scrum on the Cockles 22 the hosts swarmed forward, scoring an early try through prop Alec Chase, converted by Jermaine Jones.
Exmouth looked second best, off the pace, and a shadow of the team sitting in a play-off spot. A penalty kick for the Cockles saw the ball drift well wide and the home team countered.
With missed tackles in the Cockles midfield Hornets prospered and Charlie Carter touched down, Jones converted and the home lead grew.
Exmouth at last got their game together midway through the half; a series of penalties against the hosts who persistently infringed, taking the Cockles just metre’s short of the line. As the Cockles looked to move the ball quickly, Hornets threw the ball away and Chris Bentley picked up a yellow card for his protestations.
Exmouth retained the penalty and the kick to the corner saw a trademark catch and drive pulled down yet again, earning Hornet’s Chase a yellow. At the second time of asking the line-out was sound, the drive strong and James Harris touched down, but, in a difficult wind, Meadows pulled the conversion wide of the ark.
Hornets responded well to the improved Cockles game and quick hands set second row Phil Hogarth off on a 40-metre run to the line.
Five metre’s out a diving tap tackle halted the big mans progress, but his offload allowed Carter to cross for his second, the conversion dropping short.
Young Matt Harris injured in the build up to the Hornets try was replaced by Isaac Dalton, his impact was immediate as he chased down the kick-off pushing the hosts back.
The Cockles, once restored to 15, went looking for a score. Hornets lost another player to the sin bin and, with the half almost up, club captain Mark Wathes produced a little piece of magic as the line out provided quick ball and he broke the home defence to score. Meadows converted and that enabled the Cockles to go into the break trailing by just seven at 19-12.
Rich Cadywould replaced George Meadows at half-time and the Cockles re-emerged with the thoughts of head coach Jon Hill clearly ringing in their ears!
The Exmouth side began to string numerous phases of play together; when they did, Hornets had no answer, particularly to the barn-storming runs of the James Harris. Wathes broke the home defence on repeated occasions and Ollie Pyne showed his strength in the contact area.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, despite their serious intent and industry, the Cockles had nothing to show as Hornets looked to slow things down at every opportunity.
The game moved into the final quarter and the Cockles saw a brace of penalties pulled painfully wide – to the clear delight of the home faithful!
There were 10 minutes remaining when, with the ball deep in Hornets territory and, after repeated phases that ultimately created space out wide and centre Henry Goldson dived over to score, but a difficult conversion pulled wide to leave the Cockles trailing by two points.
Hornets dug deep, and looked to be contained the hard-working, and increasingly desperate, Cockles.
With two minutes left, attacking the Hornets’ 22, the ball fell to Cadywould who found the time and room to launch a superb drop goal to edge his side ahead for the first time in the contest.
There was still time for the Cockles to concede a soft penalty on their own 10-metre line. However, the kick, the final act of the match, drifted wide and the visiting supporters were able to begin the celebrations!
On Saturday there’s a day off for the Cockles who return to action for the final Devon derby of the season the week after when Newton Abbot visit the Imperial Ground.