As is the way with third team rugby due to a number of unavailability’s this week particularly in the pack the team had an unfamiliar look with a number of players playing out of position. The skipper Richie Guy changing from his usual position of scrum half to Hooker, veteran back-row Leigh Ellis stepping in at loose-head for the afternoon.
Straight from the kick off the Engineers put the Nomads under pressure and threatened to take an early lead but for some outstanding defence shown by Exmouth. It was apparent early in the game that the engineers were well organised and look to play at a high tempo to try and take advantage of the significant age difference in the sides. To a man the Exmouth line stood firm with some massive defensive hits being put in by the back-row of Aaron Conway, Ash Reid and Nomad debutant Chris Hooper. When the Engineers did manage to win quick ball for their backs they were also closed down very quickly with the centre partnership of Andrew Smith and Matt Wells marshaling the line superbly.
After twenty-five the minutes the Nomads line was finally breached, the Engineers going through over twenty phases of play managed to keep recycling the ball to score from close range to the right-hand side of the post with the conversion going over to make the score 7 – 0. From the resulting kick off the Nomads responded well and made a number of forays into the Engineers twenty-two but ultimately the final pass or decision making at the crucial stage cost Exmouth scoring. The match then swung again in the Engineers favour when Ash Reid received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, despite Ash’s protests the referee’s call was correct. The sight of the yellow card spurred the Engineers to try & run everything wide and once again Exmouth matched them and stood firm without conceding whilst the player was in the sin bin. Just before half time Exmouth managed to string a number of phases of play together which saw Ash Reid fresh from his ten minute rest score close to the posts after great recycling from the Nomads pack. The resulting conversion was hit by Glenn Layton to tie the scores at seven all.
With only a few minutes remaining in the half the Engineers laid siege to the Exmouth line, Exmouth managed to force a turn over and after good handling by the back division the ball was kicked ahead into space and it looked as if Exmouth may finish the half in the lead. Although a knock on resulted in the half ending all square.
The second half continued a similar pattern to the first with the Engineers determined to put width on the ball to try and gain an advantage with their pace. Exmouth then suffered a number of injuries to the already patched up front five which saw even more disruption to the set piece which ultimately helped the Engineers and it wasn’t long before they took the lead to make the score 12-7. Exmouth showed huge heart and a vast amount of character to ensure that the game didn’t get taken away from them in the early stages of the half. But with Exmouth putting in such a huge defensive shift in the first half it was always going to tell at some point in the game and during the last ten minutes the game became very ragged with the Engineers scoring two further tries to leave the final score 22-7.
Exmouth can take a number of positives from the game, with one more league game left before the Christmas break it’s important that we look to secure a win going into the break. This week the night-shirt was awarded to Ash Reid for picking up a yellow card, the man of the match was awarded to the veteran warrior Leigh Ellis (pic) who not only played out of position in the front row but also put in a solid performance around the field that belied his ageing years.