Exmouth land vital win to move to within sight of other basement sides
PUBLISHED: 07:49 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 07:49 28 November 2013
Exmouth 36, Clifton 34
The Cockles ended their run of National Two (S) defeats with a superb home success over a Clifton side that began, and finished, the day in sixth place in the table.
Without a win since a September 28, and without a bonus point since the only other success they have enjoyed at this level – the Imperial Ground triumph over Canterbury four weeks earlier - the victory was certainly deserved, despite the narrow margin of victory.
The opening exchanges of the contest suggested anything but a home success as Clifton raced into a 17-0 lead in just a dozen minutes.
The first points on the board for the Cockles came in the 16th minute when Dave Bargent gathered a catch-and-drive and powered over. Rob Avery-Wright tucked away the conversion and the spirits were lifted all round the Imperial Ground. The visitors hit back and moved into a 17-67 lead courtesy of a penalty, but that score in the 21st minute, was to be their last of the first half which was then controlled by a confident looking home side.
Dan Pullinger was alert to react first to punish some sloppy Clifton play and crossed for the second Cockles try in the 24th minute and again Avery-Wright’s trusty boot added the extras.
Fourteen minutes after the Pullinger try Mark Wathes charged over and to move the Cockles to within a point of the visitors.
Half-time arrived with the Cockles just that point behind, but it did not take them long to take the lead for the first time early in the second period. Nine minutes after the restart the match official was not impressed when the visitors collapsed a scrum near their line and a penalty try was awarded and Avery-Wright tucked over then kick to send the Cockles into a 26-20 lead!
The lead was extended in the 62nd minute with a splendid try. The ball was worked sweetly out to Richard Bright and he showed the visitors a clean set of heels to power to the line. Once again Avery-Wright converted with a kick form wide on the touchline and the Cockles moved into a comfortable 13 point lead.
That advantage was reduced four minutes later with a Clifton converted try. But a 68th minute Avery-Wright penalty put the Cockles 36-27 up with 12 minutes to play.
With seven minutes remaining Clifton struck with a try out wide and the conversion was landed to move the visitors to within a pair of points.
Clear heads and calm minds were called for to see out the remaining six minutes, something the Cockles did to a man to secure a third success of the season.
Suddenly the situation at the foot of the National Two (S) table does not look so ominous for the Cockles.
On Saturday they travel to Cambridge who were 33-17 winners at Bournemouth last weekend. Their home form is decent for they have won their last three at home, beating Taunton (48-25), Southend (25-10) and Clifton (32-13) since they were last beaten at home by Ampthill who won there 25-15 in late September and they also lost their first home game of the campaign, beaten 24-4 by Canterbury.
The latest table reads:
P W D L F A Pts
Hartpury College 12 9 0 3 438 242 47
Ampthill & District 12 8 1 3 417 218 41
Cambridge 12 8 0 4 365 245 41
Canterbury 12 7 0 5 347 294 38
Clifton 12 7 0 5 308 295 35
Taunton Titans 12 7 0 5 337 342 35
Southend 12 7 0 5 271 303 35
Bishops Stortford 12 5 1 6 317 323 34
Chinnor 12 6 0 6 300 268 31
Redruth 12 5 1 6 289 300 31
Cornish All Blacks 12 6 0 6 253 319 27
Shelford 12 4 2 6 278 261 26
Bournemouth 12 4 1 7 258 401 22
Dings Crusaders 12 4 0 8 244 362 21
London Irish 12 3 0 9 280 369 21
Exmouth 12 3 0 9 245 405 18