Late flourish sees Cockles bag share of spoils after seeming set to suffer defeat
PUBLISHED: 18:02 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:02 21 February 2018
Exmouth shared 72 points in their South West Premier meeting with Bracknell at the Imperial Ground, the first draw of the league campaign for the Cockles.
Mind you, with only a quarter of the contest to play it looked as if the home faithful were set to witness another disappointing outcome from their favourites.
Bracknell led 36-24 with 20 minutes left, but a terrific close to the game came from the Cockles, which saw props Tom Brown and Nick Halse score tries with a Tom Whelan conversion restoring parity in the match at 36-all. There was still time for a nervous watch for the home faithful as Bracknell won a kick in the final minute that, on most occasions, would have been slotted, but it was sent wide of the uprights to leave honours even at the end of a pulsating afternoon of action.
Exmouth head coach Jon Hill, said after the game: Points lost, or points gained…that is the question.”
He qualified that statement by saying: “On the back of the previous Saturday’s thoroughly disappointing result at Bournemouth, three league points in the bank looks pretty positive, but the long and short of it was that our defensive game was poor and let us down in another winnable contest.”
He continued: “Our recovery in the last 10 minutes was excellent and showed good team spirit and work rate, but the reality is that we did not work hard enough without the ball to win the game, and that’s is a real shame.”
Exmouth had gone into the match with what has seemed the regular lengthy absence list – mainly through injury – something Hill alluded to when he said: “Our severely depleted forward pack were very good at the set piece and provided excellent go forward ball.
“We weren’t quite accurate enough inside their 22. On three try scoring occasions we were turned over.
“Playing without five back five forwards, we utilised a dynamic back row, which limited our line out, but improved our work rate around the field.
“Missing the likes of captain Jack Fahy, Ben Hawley, Lewis Cooper, Max Keen [Keen was all set to make his debut], and Dan Armstrong [Armstrong was forced to pull out on the morning of the game owing to illness], we competed manfully at scrum and line out, dominating the early scrums and winning almost all of our line out ball.”
Hill added: “Defensively we were picked off a little at times in a fast-paced game. We will be bitterly disappointed at conceding at least two very easy scores, but credit to Bracknell, who finished them off well and created space as a back line.
“No excuses; we will be working extremely hard in training this week, and will have to improve our defensive game against Newton on Saturday [The Cockles play Newton Abbot this coming Saturday].
“We worked hard for our scores, but didn’t make Bracknell work very hard for theirs.
“All in all it was highly frustrating and something we have to be better at.”
As well as those last quarter tries from the props, other Exmouth tries were scored by Lloyd Watkins, Matt Ryan and another from Brown with George Meadows drilling home three conversions and a penalty.
Lloyd Watkins was named Cockles’ Man of the Match for what was an industrious display at nine. Dave Bargent was another to produce a shift full of energy – and he gained the ‘all-important’ Ladies’ Day player vote!
The last word goes by way of a special mention for the Cockles front row.
Saturday (February 27) sees the Cockles once again in home action when they try again to play the Devon Derby meeting with Newton Abbot.
●Cockles head coach Jon Hill is sponsored by Radio Exe.
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