Exmouth Colts win well at Plymstock Albion Oaks
By John Justice
Exmouth Colts were 43-7 winners when they travelled to Plymstock Albion Oaks, writes Ian Urmston.
The surface at Horsham Playing Fields was very good and promised lots of running rugby, but Exmouth anticipated a battle up front, and the Oaks didn’t disappoint!
When the teams met earlier in the season it had proved a close encounter and a tough match for the Cockles, who did emerge with a clean sheet and the bonus point.
The Colts are keen to finish their season with a final at Sandy Park and they knew that they had to respect their hosts.
The start was flat; the kick-off did not travel the necessary 10-metres and, with the wind at their backs, Plymstock took play down to the Exmouth line from the scrum and the Cockles found it hard to either run the ball back or clear their lines well.
The difference at this stage was that Exmouth’s line out was operating clinically and took Oaks’ ball almost at will.
As Exmouth became more able to play to their patterns, the ball was moved to the Plymstock line and centre Cook finished a good move under the posts with the opening points. Kicking into the wind, Ottoway scored the extra points.
Some dozy defending straight from a deep kick-off led to an attacking line out on the Plymstock left side.
Pressure and a few phases of strong driving brought the home team even, with a converted try.
Exmouth went straight back and using pods of forwards to latch and drive forward before spreading the ball wider saw the visitors press the home team try line.
A well-built driving maul from a line out led to number eight Oates gently touching the ball down and the extra points were added to leave the half-time score 14-7 to the Cockles.
During the break the Cockles coaching staff urged their players to use the wind to keep the play in Plymstock’s half and play in home territory, away from danger – and to keep discipline, as the competitiveness of the encounter had led to many penalties being conceded by both teams.
Despite another poor kick-off collection and time spent in their own 22, the visitors managed the game well and kept the play in the Plymstock half.
Changes had been made regularly through the game and sub Schauffler was at the end of a flowing move to score a try that got some dirt on his shorts for a change!
His brace for the afternoon sandwiched a try from Urmston, who, ignoring his own calls for calm and control, broke from the back of a maul and sneaked over in the corner.
As the gap increased Plymstock continued to work hard but their cause was hampered by a yellow card during the second half. Pressure at a defensive scrum in their own 22 led to a rushed clearance kick and this opportunity was snatched by Exmouth and Fulthorpe finished well, but owes his pack a ‘thank you’ for their tight work.
The final try was a ‘captain’s cracker’, as Justice wove a way from deep in his own half through a tiring and perhaps, by then, dispirited defence to score on the right.
He certainly wouldn’t have been allowed to get that far through Plymstock’s first-half defence.
The Man of the Match award went to try-scoring Cook, but the whole squad played well and worked hard for an impressive win against a difficult opposition.