Exeter Saracens Colts 24 - 20 Exmouth Colts
By Rob Masters
Missed conversions cost the colts a deserved victory but, 2 bonus points see them topping the table.
Exmouth Colts are sitting at the top of their division despite a narrow defeat at Exeter Saracens. A four try bonus point and losing bonus point were not really just reward for the tremendous effort put in by the team on Saturday. The Cockles dominated the first half as Sarries were unable to keep pace with the tempo of their visitors.
Saracens with no less than 3 Devon under 18s in their squad and a very much bigger set of forwards were expected to dominate the set pieces and carry hard into the Cockles. However despite only having a bare minimum of eight forwards on the day and some not playing in their usual positions it was great to see the Exmouth pack push the larger Sarries pack back at every Scrum. This gave the backs the opportunity to run the ball fast and wide.
It was this quick thinking and pace which brought the first opportunity when scrum half Stewart Masters spotted Charlie Mears outside him at a ruck close to the touchline and Mears took the pass at speed and could not be stopped to touch down in the Corner. The long range was too much for Masters conversion attempt.
The next try was to benefit Saracens when from a Penalty they kicked long and from a very well taken 5m lineout they drove over for an unconverted try.
Exmouth kept up the pace and another series of play gave Full Back Bertie Hughes the chance to score. The conversion attempt was again missed and from closer range Masters knew it was one he should not have missed. However, Exmouth maintained the pressure and were soon 15 -5 up when Tom Pengilley went over. Pengilley was unlucky not to add the extra two points when his kick came back off the post.
Just before half time Sarries narrowed the gap with a converted try to close the first period with Cockles just 3 points in front.
An encouraging team talk at half time ensured Exmouth maintained the game plan and moved the ball at every opportunity. However, Sarries tried to keep things tight and used their big ball carriers well, punching big holes in the Exmouth Defence. It looked like Sarries were going to drive over to take the lead for the first time but were penalised for holding on to the ball on the ground 5m from the Exmouth line. Quick thinking from Full back Hughes saw him tap and go evading all attempts to tackle him until he was in clear space, tackled by the Sarries full back about 10m out he was able to offload to Ryan White Who ran in to extend the lead again, but a rushed drop conversion attempt meant again the extra 2 points were missed.
Those missed conversions, eight points in total and six of which should have been made easily, were to cost Exmouth the game as Sarries ran in two more tries one of which they converted to lead by 24 - 20 with just 10 minutes remaining. Hughes looked as though he was going to save the day with another sparkling run from deep in the Cockles half but unfortunately, he was bundled into touch by some fine covering defence just 5m short.
This was a great display of rugby which and a very enjoyable afternoon for all on and off the pitch.