Exmouth guarantee place in National Two play-offs

PUBLISHED: 08:24 04 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:24 04 April 2015

Hands holding rugby ball

Hands holding rugby ball

(C) 2008 Thinkstock Images

EXMOUTH’s place in the National Two play-offs is guaranteed after they defeated Oxford Harlequins 66-8 on the Imperial Ground.

With Dave Bargent unwell, Ali Hill took the third bench spot in a strong line-up on a day three senior teams and colts took to the field in club colours.

Exmouth made a positive start and with the visitors pushed back a penalty gave George Meadows the opportunity to slot a kick .

Two minutes later the visitors’ defence was cut in half as centre Henry Goldson showed a clean pair of heels to score in the corner.

Worse to come for the visitors was the loss of their No.8 to the sin-bin. Meadows popped over an easy penalty.

Quins made a promising response, taking play into the Cockles’ 22, and a scrum resulted.

As the front rows packed down the scrum collapsed, leaving Cockles’ tight-head Nigel Berry prone on the floor.

After nearly ten minutes and with Berry on his way t hospital, the game restarted. He was kept in overnight and released after an MRI scan.

Oxford took the initiative to score an unconverted try out wide.

Exmouth struggled with some decisions of their own and the visitors had their best period of play, rewarded with a penalty 30 minutes in.

The home side, with Ollie Pyne, Ollie Rice and James Harris to the fore, took the game to the visitors.

The ball was whipped across field for Goldson to power over for his second try of the half.

Exmouth lost scrum half Garry Hooper to the sin-bin for a team offence.

Undeterred, Exmouth carved through the failing Quins defence the with the final pass putting flanker Harris in under the posts.

Meadows conversion was the final act of the half, which ended with Exmouth 23-8 up.

Meadows got the second half off to a good start by slotting a penalty before the bonus point try came.

Matt Ryan, whose strong running was a thorn in Oxford’s side, touched down in Clubhouse Corner.

Playing bright and lively rugby with some great interplay, the battling visitors had their hands full. Richard Bright was next to score under the posts. Meadows added the extras.

From the restart Pyne led the charge, quick hands from the three quarters saw Ollie Rice take a fine line to score under the posts. Meadows’ conversion made it 45-8 with 25 minutes left.

Oxford’s hard-working defence was sorely tested and with the Cockles metres from the tryline the visiting scrum-half was sin-binned as he came in offside.

Five minutes later hard-working No.8 Ross Morshead got in on the act, scoring a fine try as the forwards pummelled the Oxford tryline. Meadows converted.

Ryan got his second just minutes later again scoring under the posts as he outstripped the defence. Meadows added the extras.

With less than ten minutes remaining the rampant home side showed little mercy with huge hits and dazzling pace on display throughout the side.

The set-piece, which had provided such a good platform, was a key factor. With Oxford tiring, Bright got his second, Meadows wrapping up the score with his ninth successful kick of the game.

Man of the match could have been any number of players but dynamic flanker Ollie Pyne deservedly picked up the award.

The Quins drew 15-15 at Cullompton, the Nomads beat Crediton 28-7 and Colts beat Paignton 15-13 in an excellent day’s rugby for the Cockles.

Exmouth have no game this Saturday

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