Exmouth coach speaks on that extra-time play-off defeat

PUBLISHED: 19:24 26 April 2015

Exmouth took on Weston at the Imperial Ground on Saturday. Ref exsp 3541-17-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Exmouth took on Weston at the Imperial Ground on Saturday. Ref exsp 3541-17-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

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Exmouth coach Jon Hill spoke the day after his team's heart-breaking play-off extra-time defeat to Barnes.

He said: “The game was, of course, heart breaking, and one which will affect mindsets, emotions and

livelihoods over the course of the next 12 months. The beauty of sport is that it can be amazing, but then can also be devastating, all in a space of a short space of time. The contest with Barnes was a classic example of this! From 15-0 up after 39 minutes, and then held up over the try line, under the sticks, with the final

play of the half which really should have seen us in at the break 22-0 to the good and from that, very few sides would have recovered.

Barnes did indeed recover and threw everything at us, and like the change in the weather, our positive mindset reduced, we forget how to attack. We tried to cling on and were left staring down the barrel of defeat at 19-15 with time ticking down when the true character of the team shone through. The next action saw us smash home a rolling maul and- bang – or bangers’ if you are Isaac – and we were back in the driving seat.

What happens next? We win a penalty and think it is game over! We kick for touch and the referee says

there is still time left. If we win the line-out, we get promoted to National Two!

Alas the line-out is not straight, there’s a final play and a scrum from which we concede a penalty. The rest is, of course, history, and one I’d rather not dwell on at this stage.”

Hill continued: “It would be pertinent at this point to congratulate Barnes on their promotion. They showed an unbelievable ‘bounce backability’ and we wish them well on their return to National Two. The contest itself was watched by what seemed like over a thousand people, and the ground was absolutely rammed with local rugby fans supporting Devon rugby.

The club itself showed how good we can be off the field, and we can all learn lessons on how we can stage events and market games to maximise crowds and build a better spectator base, for what is a very good standard of rugby. The club management need applauding for their monumental efforts yesterday, thank you!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the players for what has been a remarkable season. Their efforts, enthusiasm, training ethic and team unity has been remarkable. We have demonstrated that if we all stick together, we can achieve great things. After our relegation the previous year, it would have been easy to implode, but this group of players have shown fantastic mental strength and togetherness.”

Now looking to the future, Hill continued: “ Like all teams at the end of the season, there will be a few departures, and one or two additions. We will look, as always, to promote young talent that has come through the Cockles youth section, and offer competitive rugby at national league level to some local players who we feel will benefit from the exposure to such a level. We will never have the budgets of some of our rivals, but this Exmouth squad is based on togetherness and team spirit which is absolutely priceless, and for which money cannot buy. The cultural architects of the likes of Bentley, Emery, Harris, Wathes and Bargent have ensured that we achieve over

and above what people see on paper and this is the way that Exmouth RFC will always be.”

He concluded: “We welcome Ivybridge into National Three next season to add yet another local derby, and our travel will be considerably less with both Dings and Lydney relegated from National Two. So it’s time to re-group, re-gather our thoughts and consider how to gain another 10 per vent from all of our club and team processes.”

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