Exmouth coach speaks about another Devon derby victory

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:13 27 February 2018

Action from the Cockles home victory over Newton Abbot. Picture JAN MCCARTHY

Action from the Cockles home victory over Newton Abbot. Picture JAN MCCARTHY


Exmouth head coach Jon Hill spoke after the Cockles’ 24-21 Devon derby win over Newton Abbot at the Imperial Ground.

The win means that the Cockles have completed their Devon derbies in the league this season with a 100 per cent record.

Tom Whelan proved to be the home player who made the match-winning difference, scoring 19 points with one try, one conversion and four successful penalty kicks. The other home try was scored by Mark Wathes.

Newton Abbot, with their new Tongan international back row having a big impact on proceedings with his big ball carrying and hard-hitting style, contributed plenty to an entertaining contest watched by another big Imperial Ground crowd.

Hill said: “It was a superb second- half performance that saw us to this particular win and Tom Whelan’s contribution was obviously the key one.”

He continued: “Time and time again we repelled Newton with some hard hitting of our own.

“We demonstrated a huge team spirit and work ethic and had to work hard for our victory.

“One particular hit from Charlie Gibbings in the first half really set the tone for us as we grew into the game.”

However, it was not always good viewing for the Cockles head coach, who said: “I was disappointed with our completion rate in the first half.

“We dominated territory and possession, but wasted six good opportunities in their 22.

“We lacked accuracy and Newton showed their strength at the breakdown and in the line out.”

He went on: “We were hampered by the loss of player forwards coach Dave Bargent, who is such an influential player for us, after he had to drop out on the morning of the game.

“In a side also missing captain Jack Fahy, and influential back three player Richard Bright, we were also then forced into a reshuffle when we lost key lineout forward Ben Hawley to injury after 20 minutes.

“I felt that it took us a little bit of time to settle and find our rhythm at lineout because of the disruption, but when we did, we caused problems in broken field play when we generated momentum.”

One aspect that Hill particularly enjoyed about the Cockles play was in the scrum. He said: “Our scrum was strong and, in the second half, we made numerous line breaks by targeting weaker defenders, and some gaps around the fringe.

“Lloyd Watkins, in particular was strong around the fringe and set up the Mark Wathes try from a sniping break.

“Mike Richards probably had his best game of the season in the engine room, and made a series of big carries to give us momentum.”

Hill had praise for the opposition, saying: “Credit to Newton, who picked off some of our more lumpy forwards in the first half by playing with some good width. After half time, however, I felt that we dominated a 30-minute spell by playing at pace and with width, in a back line orchestrated by the impressive Man of the Match George Meadows and his fellow midfield partner in Tom Whelan.

“It is, of course, another Devon derby meeting victory and, as per the first game against Newton, the contest witnessed another fine display of place kicking from both sides, with former Cockle Rob Avery Wright also impressing off the tee for the visitors.”

Looking ahead to what remains of the campaign, Hill said: “A big challenge now is for us to build on yesterday’s performance and find some consistency.

“It is always easy to motivate yourself to play in a Devon Derby, against a side fielding a current International, but now the big test is to string together a series of performances.

“Fahy, Bargent, Bright, Lewis Cooper, Nick Headley and Matt Ryan will all be hoping to push for selection for Saturday’s game, but it will be hard to justify rotating anyone after impressive displays all round.”

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