Bishop's Stortford gained promotion to National One in fine style with an impressive away day victory on the road at relegated Exmouth. Ten tries to one told its own story in a game that started at a rate of knots and finished in the same fashion.
Bishops' lively backs caused problems in the wider channels and an ability to keep the ball for long periods told against a less organised defence that leaked at various points throughout the game.
Exmouth to their credit, worked hard throughout, but had no answers to the lightening backs and counter attacking game of the league leaders who must have known that promotion was sealed when they ran in their forth try bonus point mid way through the first half.
An early score from Winger Jimmy Rea, was quickly followed by impressive centre Sam Winter for a 12-0 lead. Goal kicker Tom Banks ran in and converted his own try from a quick tap penalty to add to an earlier conversion. The Exmouth defence had their backs turned and had switched off for the easy score. Back rower James Apperly scored the bonus point try with Banks adding the extras, and a cricket score looked likely in the promotion party.
Number Eight Stephen Ball scored the fifth try five minutes before half time with Banks adding the extras. Exmouth coach Jon Hill made two changes before halftime and one of them, Centre Alex Goldman, made an excellent break through the middle to offload to impressive back rower James Harris, to make the score respectable at the break. Centre Ollie Rice landed his first ever National League conversion to take the score line to 33-7.
The Cockles started the second half brightly playing with width , only to be picked off with an interception that led to a try for full back Will Simmonds. The promotion party was in full swing on the touch lines with champagne corks being popped by the large visiting faithful, who were in full voice from start to finish. The Cockles were not helped when they lost centre Ollie Rice to the sin bin and scrum half Matt Ryan to injury. The finishing back line included flanker Dave Bargent at nine and centre Tom Bedford at ten. There were simy too many holes to fill in a depleted squad that lacked accuracy at vital times to trouble the scoreboard any further.
The new league champions were rewarded with four tries in the last twenty minutes that included one for winger Nick Hankin, one for flanker Dan Elsom and a brace for the impressive Simmonds, to claim his hat trick. There will no doubt be a few sore heads in the Bishops camp tomorrow morning as they rightly celebrate a remarkable season that has seen them consistently produce the goods in impressive style.
Exmouth Head coach Jon Hill commented:
Updated 19:18 - 5 May 2017 by Exmouth RFC Webmaster
"I am absolutely delighted for Bishop's who have been the best side we have played against all season, and who's club ethos is impressive and should be applauded. The togetherness of their side and the spirit that they show is superb. The club itself is extremely well organised and their model appears to be highly sustainable, which is refreshing. Andy has done an amazing job there and I will certainly look out for their scores as they look to break into National One next season. Well done to them."