For 60 minutes of this game with Champions Elect Bournemouth RFC, The Cockles were in contention and pushing all the way. Indeed a missed penalty after 2 minutes perhaps heralded the luck of the visitors. 15 minutes had passed before Grant Hancox converted the first to two penalties in quick succession, 6-0. On 23 minutes both sides were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card, Steve Pape and Joe Tarrant forced to take a break together. From the resultant penalty that was awarded to Exmouth, Sam Whitehead duly slotted for 6-3. The game was fast and furious and both teams squandered chances. Exmouth did have a series of penalties that were kicked to corner, unfortunately the line-out malfunctioned and the potential scoring opportunity squandered. Having said that, some of the best defensive work, especially from Skipper Jack Fahy and the industrious back row of O’Shaughnessy, Harris and Hawley, blocked the path of the home side. George Meadows at Fly Half marshaled his backs to attack wide where they could, wings Goldson and Wathes with Dave Bargent made ground with some elusive running. Eventually on 31 minutes Bournemouth Scrum Half Sam Hardcastle spotted and opportunity close to The Cockles try line and burrowed over, converted by Hancox, 13-3. At half time.
The second half would be marked by a devastating 20 minute period where the hosts showed why they had only lost 1 from 22 games. It was still anyone’s game though. Exmouth front row of Cooper, Halse and Tribble again did some damage to the Bournemouth front row. After 11 minutes and some great work from forwards and backs defensive line, the ball dropped to Centre Nick Headley who out sprinted the opposition to sprint 60 metres to cross the whitewash, converted by Full Back Sam Whitehead, 13-10. On the hour the hosts then played simple, big hitting and patient rugby to blitz the game. 4 tries, from Scott Chislett, Joe Reece, Ben Roberts and Sam Hardcastle, all converted by Hancox closed the final score to 41-10. It should be said that although Bournemouth were good for the win, Exmouth did display the grit, determination and guile to challenge. Missed passes, turnovers, ball stripped and luckless bounce did the damage, some bad luck the Cockles had not experienced for a while. Penalised for competing at a 50/50 breakdown also seemed to be an issue on the day? Exmouth had to endure another 10 minute yellow for unlucky Charlie Tribble. From the bench, Will Ridout at Hooker made some in roads to the final stages, debutant Wing Will Hockin showed fabulous pace to chase down a cross field kick from Tom Whelan, only for it to bounce away and be cleared.
Congratulations to Bournemouth who gained promotion as other results also went their way.
More importantly for Exmouth, they retain their South West Premier League status with 4 games to go. Congratulation to Bournemouth and good luck on their re-entry to National 2 South.
Next up at home, Bracknell in two weeks. Then away to Brixham at the end of the month. The Cockles will push on to improve on their current 5th place, with a lot to play for before the close of the season.
Updated 09:55 - 18 Mar 2019 by Ian Harris