Second successive Devon derby win for the Cockles as Newton Abbot are beaten
PUBLISHED: 12:16 12 February 2019
Exmouth chalked up a second successive home Devon derby victory and registered a ninth South West Premier Division win of the campaign as they defeated Newton Abbot 27-17 at the Imperial Ground.
Games between the Cockles and the ‘All Whites’ are always close encounters and, prior to this latest meeting, Cockles head coach Steve Perry had warned his side against any complacency and to discount the fact that (a) his team had won at Newton Abbot earlier in the season and (b) the second from bottom status that the ‘All Whites’ currently occupy in the table.
The previous day’s rain had given way to good conditions for rugby and it was clear from the first whistle that a running game would ensue with both forward packs clearly up for a close quarter bash!
From the start, the game was a little frenzied and both team had attacking opportunities.
Jake Inglis, called up into the senior XV for his first start after some impressive performances in the club’s second XI, shone on the wing as the Cockles began to impose themselves on proceedings.
It was not until the 17th minute that the first scores were posted on the board with prop Charlie Tribble muscling his way over for a try.
The conversion attempt from George Meadows hit the post, but the Cockles led 5-0.
The battle continued in all areas of the field and The Cockles extended their lead when wing Henry Goldson, who joined the action from the bench, found some space on the left side to cross for a try and the Cockles looked to be heading into half-time with a clean sheet lead,
However, a home error handed an opportunity to Newton Abbot that was clinically taken by the visitors with Ian Milton scoring a try converted by Harry Ottaway and the players trooped off at the break with the Cockles leading 10-7.
Whatever was said in the visiting camp during the interval, it worked – for they began the second half looking like a side determined to net the win their worrying league position requires.
Inside the first minute of the second half, Newton Abbot centre Cameron Fogden crossed for a try, but the Ottaway conversion effort was missed.
However, the All Whites led for the first time at 12-10.
The Cockles stepped up the tempo and fashioned what looked a number of excellent scoring opportunities, but they were kept at arm’s length by strong Newton defence.
Dave Bargent looked certain to score in the corner, but a great saving tackle just pushed him in to touch.
However, the home pressure continued and it was replacement Tom Whelan who took advantage when the ball popped out of a scrum and his quick thinking saw him touch down.
He brushed himself down to slot the conversion and the Cockles had regained the lead at 17-12.
Just before the hour mark Nick Headley split the All Whites’ defence to dive over under the posts and another Whelan conversion extended the home lead to one of a dozen points at 24-12.
The fourth try also meant the sealing of the bonus point.
However, the drama was not over for, with 15 minutes left, Newton flanker Tom Bottoms crossed, but another missed kick from Ottaway meant that the Cockles held a seven point lead at 24-17.
What this did mean, though, was that, in the closing stages, a converted try for the visitors would leave honours even!
The home defence stood firm and with eight minutes to play the Cockles had the chance to stretch their lead with a penalty, but Tom Whelan’s well-struck kick struck the upright before falling away.
The final result gave the Cockles a five point success to cement their position in the table. With only seven league games left in the season – three home and four away – every point will be crucial.
On Saturday (February 16) the Cockles travel to Gloucestershire to face bottom-of-the-table Old Patesians.