Exmouth RFC latest - our weekly chat with Cockles head coach Steve Perry

PUBLISHED: 08:24 02 October 2019

Exmouth at home to Barnstaple. Ref exsp 35 19TI 9020. Picture: Terry Ife

Exmouth at home to Barnstaple. Ref exsp 35 19TI 9020. Picture: Terry Ife

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Cockles head coach Steve Perry was understandably disappointed with the manner in which his team saw their unbeaten start to the South West Premier campaign ended.

Speaking after the dust had settled on the team's 25-15 defeat at Newbury Blues, Perry said: "I am afraid it became 'one of those days' - these things do happen and sadly, for our travelling faithful' it went wrong for us up in Berkshire."

He continued: "You could run out the good old sporting clichés like 'we didn't turn up', 'bad day at the office'etc, but there is no escaping from the fact that we did not perform and so lost to the better team on the day."

The poor start - shipping two early tries - meant things started badly and the Cockles coach said: "We really did not make them (Blues) work particularly hard for their early tries and that is the biggest disappointment of all."

He was able to find some positives though, something he alluded too when he said: "I liked the fact that we showed real character when 15-3 down and got it back to 15-all. Indeed we were then in a position from which we did fashion opportunities, but almost like the overall game, things just fizzled out and, to add insult to injury, their final try was a tad random. Yes, this is one to forget and quickly and it will be as we have to now prepare for a big test at home to Okehampton on Saturday."

He added: "The big thing, as it always is from my point of view, is that we learn, and quickly, what we did wrong at Newbury and try to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes again. That, quite frankly, is all a coach can ask for. We can spend hours on the training ground working on systems and manoeuvres and, human nature being what it is, there will be mistakes along the way. That's acceptable as it is a part of the game, but what we need to try and eradicate is making the same mistake over and over again."

As for the meeting with the side that won last years South West One West Division - finishing just above Launceston, Perry says: "They [Okehampton] recruited well in the summer and have in their ranks some genuine quality.

"Rob Dugard is a player I know well from our time together at Barnstaple, he's a lovely lad and a fine player while their player-coach, Gav Evans, has played an coached at a higher level and they also have the likes of Richard Bolt who played in the Premiership with Harlequins and Bevan Armitage who played at Doncaster so I am not surprised that they have settled into the higher level quickly."

He continued: "Indeed, I do feel that Okehampton are probably better equipped than most to compete at this level. However, we need to focus on what we do best and make sure that we direct the tempo of the game on Saturday. We do have some players who were unavailable for the trip to Blues back and that is a good thing."

On the availability issue, the Cockles coach added: "Someone at Newbury asked me ahead of kick-off if we were at full strength on the day to which I answered that, hand on heart, I doubt many team sat our level can ever say they are at absolute full strength. It's the measure of the beast in as much as there are always going to 'other things' that get in the way of 100 per cent availability on a game-by-game basis."

He continued: "But equally therein lies the beauty of playing rugby at this level for you do need a big squad to be able to accommodate those that have to work, or who are injured, or those who simply, for whatever reason, cannot spend six to seven hours of a Saturday on a coach trip to and from a league game."

We then asked the Cockles head coach about the fact that his side had beaten a good maidenhead side that then lost at home to Ivybridge.

He said; "I do know that Maidenhead are struggling in the front row right now and as that particular area of the game holds such a big importance at our level of the game I don't doubt that once they get their big guns all back we will see a spike in their performance and results. It's a tough, uncompromising league and there are no 'easy' games. Far from it and I don't doubt that this Saturday's meeting with Okehampton will be as equally challenging to us as the one we had in our last home game against Maidenhead."

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