Tribble try double as Cockles net bonus point win with superb all-round performance
PUBLISHED: 13:26 06 October 2019
Every week you want to see a game that serves excitement, skill and commitment from both teams and the South West Premier meeting between Exmouth and Okehampton certainly delivered that to the watching spectators at the Imperial Ground.
Although the final score 26-5 to the Cockles looks like it was clear cut, especially with a four try bonus point being bagged, reality is that this was far from the case.
Okehampton arrived with a fair record, newly promoted to the division, they certainly challenged Exmouth in several areas.
Strong running forwards, pacey backs, home-grown players and smart recruitment including former Cockle (he also turned out for Hartpury and Harlequins) Richard Bolt at scrum half.
There was an early change after a couple of minutes for the home side, back row Joe Harris coming on in place of James Harris who tweaked a leg muscle.
It was clear that Exmouth forwards would go on to dominate at scrum time and their own line out. After several phases of pressure and great work from the pack prop Charlie Tribble muscled his way over and George Meadows converted for the Cockles to lead 7-0.
What ensued was a tough contest between the two teams. Each breaking the gain line, each snuffing out attack with strong defence.
It took until 25 minutes before the visitors scored their only try of the game. Great flowing movement and a well worked training ground move, split the Exmouth defence, wing Gareth Espin went over out wide, but fill back Richard Friend missed the conversion.
The game was still tight, but where the Cockles were enjoying dominance was up front. The back line of James Bath, Meadows, Nick Headley, Dan Sanders, Sam Whitehead with Matty Ryan and Lewis Geran on the wings, looked tricky in attack and resolute in their defence. Geran particularly pulled of a couple of super try saving stops.
Just before half-time Exmouth delivered two well taken tries from the forwards. First flanker Dan Armstrong burrowed over and Meadows converted before Tribble crossed the whitewash for the second time, this time for an unconverted try and the Cockles led 19-5 at the break.
The second half saw much of the action centred on in the Exmouth 22 metre area, Okehampton hammered on the door to get over the line.
Stunning defensive sets from Exmouth forwards, Nick Halse, Shane Cooper, Steve Pape, Dave Bargent, Joe Harris and Skipper Jack Fahy, kept Okey from scoring.
When the hosts worked the ball to wide channels it was the backs who closed the route. The visitors did cross the try line twice in the second period, however the ferocity of the defence tackles dislodged the ball and Okehampton knocked on when trying to ground the ball.
It took until 74 minutes before Cockles sealed their bonus point win and it came after smart team play upfield ended with second row Steve Pape side-stepping his way over and Meadows added the extras to complete the scoring.
Okehampton came with intent on their part and they were both robust and thorny. It brought out the best Cockles defensive set this term. Interchanges from the bench with Jack Madge and Henry Goldson allowed the home side to keep constant throughout the second half. No doubt about - this was a great team performance all round.
On Saturday (October 12) the Cockles head up the M5 motorway for a meeting with Weston-super-Mare.