Exmouth suffer play-off heartache with extra-time defeat

PUBLISHED: 20:35 25 April 2015 | UPDATED: 20:35 25 April 2015

Exmouth took on Weston at the Imperial Ground on Saturday. Ref exsp 3556-17-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Exmouth took on Weston at the Imperial Ground on Saturday. Ref exsp 3556-17-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Exmouth suffered play-off despair as they went down to visiting Barnes 27-22 in a match that swung both ways during a compelling first 80 minutes and then extra-time.

Exmouth made a bright start and a George Meadows penalty gave them an early lead. It got better for the massed ranks of home followers when Rich Bright scampered home from 70 metres out and a successful Meadows conversion made it 10-0.

Just before the half-time whistle Mark Wathes crossed the Barnes line to send the Cockles into the break with a 15-0 lead.

An early second half converted try fired the Division Three (S) London and South East runners-up back into the contest at 15-7, and, as the skies opened and the light rain became of the heavier variety, they repeated the exercise to bring the scores to within a single point.

A third try this time unconverted, gave Barnes the lead for the first time in the contest.

However, the Cockles dug deep, built pressure and a Stuart Lowe penalty try together with a successful conversion restored the home lead.

With the full time whistle looming Barnes were awarded a scrum on the Exmouth 10m and when the Cockles infringed the penalty was tucked away to send the tie into extra-time.

Neither side could add to their score in the first half of extra time and so the game moved into the closing stages with many in a large Imperial Ground crowd wondering, given that the teams were level in the match in terms of tries, penalties and conversions, just how the tie would be settled!

However, Barnes won turnover ball in the Cockles half and broke clear to score the decisive try to break the home hearts and win the tie 27-22 and consign the Cockles to another season of National Three (SW) rugby whilst Barnes will step up to play in National Two (S).

In what became a classic case of ‘so near and yet so far’ the Cokcles, to a man, can be proud of their monumental efforts, both in this game and the season as a whole. No doubt they will take stock during the close season and come powering back to make a bid for higher level rugby once again next season.

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