Exmouth went down 27-7 on their visit to Exeter University for their latest South West Premier outing.
However, that final score in favour of the 100 per cent and table-topping students, does not reflect what went on for much of the 80 minutes of action. The Cockles deserved so much more for their efforts!
This first 31 minutes of the contest were played out with both team smart in attack and working hard in defence to thwart any try scoring opportunity.
The deadlock was eventually broken by the Cockles Nick Headley who set off on an individual run, crashing several tackles, before touching down for his try. George Meadows duly stepped up to convert and that left the Cockles holding a 7-0 adevantage.
Five minutes later an infringement gave the hosts chance to go for points. Taking a simpler option, they kicked for goal and that proved to be the final ‘score’ of the first half with the teams leaving the pitch at the break with the Cockles leading 7-3.
In the second half, both teams were chasing the next score to move things along. Eventually, after 20 minutes it was the University who scored the first of what would be four unanswered second half tries, two of them converted.
Fairly evenly spaced through the rest of the game, it would be fair to say that two came from errors by the Cockles and two well worked by Exeter. Even at 17-7 down the Cockles still looked like they would get back into the game and did have their chances. Three times adjudged to have been held up over the try line. New rules allow the defending side to clear their line with a goal line drop out. Scant reward for going over the try line, the referee unsighted on touch down.
The Cockles also had a couple of opportunities to take penalty kicks at goal and chose to trust in keeping the ball in play. On reflection, maybe a better option to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
This was a lot closer than the score suggests. Exmouth had the game by the scruff of the neck for 60 minutes. Defence was quick and ferocious. The last 20 minutes gave a glimpse of why the students are top of the table, unbeaten so far.
It’s back-to-back home games now for the Cockles, and terrific matches they look to be with Saturday’s (November 27) opposition at the Imperial Ground being fifth placed Weston-super-Mare and then, seven days later, on Saturday, December 4, the Cockles entertain the second of the South West Premier 100 per cent outfits, Hornets.
Meanwhile, Exmouth Quins were in East Devon derby action when they visited Sidmouth. The hosts were just behind Exmouth in Devon Merit Table 1, looking to swop places with The Cockles. On the back over a close loss the week before Exmouth 2nd Team were in no mood to mess around. That is not to say that it was going to be easy against a strong Sidmouth outfit. In fact, Exmouth went into the break 10-13 down. First half tries from Liam Bayley and Ollie Engela Ras.
The visitors showed a touch of class in the second period with scores from Sam Fulthorpe who also kicked 3 conversions. Liam Bayley collected his brace and one for Steff Archer.
The best team score of the afternoon was finished by Harry Sale. Following up on his own kick chase from Bertie Hughes, the ball passed from Rich Crellin, James Goss and finally to Harry. Final score 16-36.
Exmouth Quins now mirror the Cockles 1st XV in sitting fourth in their league table.