Exmouth RFC coach speaks about defeat at Weston-super-Mare

PUBLISHED: 09:58 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:58 20 March 2018

Exmouth action from their defeat at Weston-super-Mare Picture JAN MCCARTHY

Exmouth action from their defeat at Weston-super-Mare Picture JAN MCCARTHY

Archant

Exmouth suffered another disappointing away day defeat when they went down at Weston-super-Mare, beaten 29-21 in Somerset.

Despite the Cockles’ excellent second half performance, a 24-point half-time deficit was simply too much to claw back as the Exmouth travelling faithful once again saw their side slip to an away loss.

Cockles head coach Jon Hill said: “Missing seven first XV regulars on top of not having had a game for a couple of weeks certainly played a part as we toiled away against a side clearly buoyed by their victory seven days before.”

He continued: “The reality of our situation is that, with key players missing, we were always going to be up against it. Given that we chose to play into the strong wind in the first half, a 10 to 14 points half-time deficit would, I am sure, have been manageable – that’s how the elements helped playing from one of the two ends.

“However, as it turned out, we shipped two sloppy tries and then conceded an opportunist try and that helped give them [Weston] a big half-time lead which ultimately proved too much to overcome after the break.”

Hill added: “A poor set-piece return in the second half proved costly, but, that said, fair play to Weston; they deserved their victory. They plugged territory well, kept the ball better than we did and we were also guilty of making too many basic errors and we also showed poor discipline.”

The Cockles clearly missed the scrummaging ‘nous’ of Tom Barnard, the line-out skills of Ben Hawley and Sam Richardson and the breakdown skills of James Harris.

Hill said: “Our pack competed admirably, but lacked a little detail. Our line-out faulted in the second half, which meant that we ended up tapping penalties rather than relying on a drive maul game from line-out that has served us well all season.

“Our backs, missing the leadership and direction of Tom Whelan and George Meadows, and the cutting edge of Richard Bright and Jack Downie, offered flashes and a good counter-attack game, but haven’t played together before and it showed.”

There were positives to take from the game, as Hill alluded too saying: “Harry Ottaway, a current colt at the club and also a Devon Under-18 player, had a good game at fly half, and will become a much better player for the experience.

“Max Keen and Pete Ingoldsby worked tirelessly in a re-jigged back row, following a first half injury to Davy McGregor, and formed an effective combination with stand-in number eight Dave Bargent and Matt Ryan moved to the number nine slot in the final quarter and offered a big threat around the fringe.”

Worryingly for Cockles, this latest away defeat leaves the team closer to third bottom Ivybridge than third top Maidenhead - Exmouth have 55 points from 21 games against the 68 from 22 for Maidenhead and the Ivybridge current return of 45 points from 21 games.

Hill says: “With the gap in league points between fifth and twelfth closing all the time, it is important that we regroup, work hard, and focus on the next block of fixtures that can cement our position in this league for another year.

“The South West Premier Division is very tight this season, with standards improving all the time.

“Cleve, away this Saturday [March 24], is now a big challenge and one that we must be hugely motivated and focused on.”

While it was not a good match day for the Exmouth 1st XV, the club’s Nomads continued their push for promotion out of Devon Merit table two after an impressive win over Kingsbridge 2nd XV and the Cockles colts also won, securing a 15-0 success in a Devon derby meeting with Newton Abbot.

The final word then with head coach Hill, who says of the Nomads and Colts: “Well done to ‘Tinners’, ‘JJ’ and the boys.”

Cockles head coach Jon Hill is sponsored by Radio Exe.

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