Exmouth edged out in top-of-the-table clash
PUBLISHED: 11:53 18 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:53 18 December 2014
Exmouth were edged out in what was a titanic top-of-the-table National Three (SW) meeting with the Redingensians, writes Chris Wright.
The opening exchanges were ominous for the Cockles as they lost the first scrum and conceded an early penalty which the visitor’s kicked for the corner and, from the line-out, crossed for a converted try.
The Cockles response was good and a driving maul was illegally pulled down. The George Meadows kick was pulled wide, but he atoned minutes later with a successful penalty, awarded for a similar offence.
A penalty extended the visitors lead, but the Cockles found a new gear and, after a yellow card for another illegal maul halting, the lineout option proved fruitful and skipper Tom Emery crossed with Meadows slotting the conversion.
With the half drawing to a close, Garry Hooper who had an industrious game, was held up over the visitors line. The resulting 5-metre scrummage held firm and number-eight Ross Morshead crashed over in the corner.
Looking set to troop off with an interval advantage the Cockles momentarily let the visitors back in and a try saw Redingensians lead 17-15 at the break.
Early in the second half a penalty extended the lead and, shortly after, Rich Cadywould joined the action, replacing Ali Hill. Some neat approach play involving Mark Wathes and James Harris ended with quick ball to winger Rich Bright who danced down the touchline to score. The conversion was wide, but the scores were tied at 20-all.
The Cockles’ failed to deal with the restart and things worsened with the loss of Morshead to the bin as he misunderstood a call and was pinged for being offside!
The Cockles held out until one minute before his return when the visitors again benefited from their scrummage dominance with an unconverted try.
Meadows pulled things back as the Cockles powered back downfield with a simple penalty kick.
With less than five minutes of normal time remaining it was anyone’s game. The Cockles were pulled back for a forward pass with numbers outwide.
Redingensians pushed for the killer blow and it arrived after a series of plays and a converted try gave them a nine-point cushion.
Despite throwing everything at the visitors and looking ones on to grab a fourth try of their own it was not to be, Redingensians intercepted the ball and gleefully kicked the ball off the field to signal the final whistle with them 32-23 victors.
Cockles coach Jon Hill said: The match was truly great advert for National Three rugby. It was a game that could have gone either way and was in the balance until the last five minutes.
“We are bitterly disappointed in the fact that we do not get any league points at all from what was both a huge effort and massive contribution to the game. That said, they (Redingensians), were worthy winners, and deserved their victory because they were more clinical than us.”
He continued: “Over the course of the game, I felt that we created more opportunities and shaded field position. Redingensians dominated in the scrum and we had the better of the line-out and maul. It was a game of fine margins and we can have no complaints as to the result because at crucial moments in the game we were not accurate enough. This included our inability to execute exit strategies in the last fifteen minutes and a yellow card which also proved costly.
“With 65 league points to play for between now and the end of the season the result is perhaps not quite as significant as some people have assumed! However, it most certainly adds some further importance to this weekends Devon derby against Barnstaple. The result and performance has highlighted some key areas for training this week which will hopefully make us a better side moving forward into the second half of the season.”
This Saturday the Cockles host Barnstaple (2pm) in the first game of the
second half of the season. A win will consolidate second place for the Cockles at the Christmas break. Sunday sees the club’s annual carols and Christmas draw with the fun getting underway at noon.