Head Coach Steve Perry had warned that this could be a tough challenge, despite the visitors’ lowly position in the South West Premier League. Newton Abbot, on the back of a few close losses, arrived at the Imperial Road, clearly with a ‘can win’ attitude. Great conditions would ensure that this was running game, although both forward packs were clearly up for a close quarter bash. From the start, the game was a little frenzied and both team had attacking opportunities. After some good performances in the 2nd team, Jake Inglis made his 1st team debut on the wing and made a strong start. The first points of the afternoon did not hit the scoreboard until 17 minutes in, after Charlie Tribble muscled his way over for a try. George Meadows hit the post to miss the conversion. The battle continued in all areas of the field and The Cockles extended their lead when Henry Goldson, who joined the action from the bench, found some space on the left side to cross for try number 2. The Cockles were heading to half-time 10-0 up, or so it looked. Exmouth made an error and handed the score opportunity to Newton Abbot, Ian Milton crossed for the try, converted by former Cockle Harry Ottaway. Score 10-7 at half time.
The visitors were clearly looking for the win they needed and after 60 seconds of the next 40 minutes Cameron Fogden put Newton Abbot in front with a try, Ottaway missed the extras, 10-12. It would be fair to say that the home side did have several scoring chances but were thwarted by strong Newton defence. Dave Bargent looked certain to score in the corner but a great saving tackle just pushed him in to touch. They next try went to replacement Tom Whelan who took advantage when the ball popped out of a scrum. Quick thinking saw him touch down and then convert his own score, Exmouth back in to the lead 17-12. With 56 minutes of the game gone, Nick Headley then split the All Whites defence to dive over under the posts, converted by Whelan, 24-12. This 4th try brought up the Try Bonus point for The Cockles. There was still some drama in this encounter and Newton Abbot played their part to fight back. With 15 minute to go Tom Bottoms crossed for the visitors, Ottaway missed the extras, 24-17. The crowd sensed this was going to be a tight final 10 minutes, Newton Abbot seeking their 4th try, maybe to close the game as a draw? Exmouth did have a chance to stretch their lead with a penalty 8 minutes from time. Tom Whelan struck the ball hard, only for it to shake the upright and fall away. In the end the game win went to Exmouth 27-17.
On a match day when performance mattered, Dave Bargent received the Man of the Match plaudit, presented by James Leat from our valued sponsor Ideal Cleaners. Thank you for your support.
The final result gave The Cockles a 5 point win to cement their position in the table. With only 7 league games left in the season, 3 home and 4 away, every point will be crucial. The Cockles travel to Old Patesians in Gloucester next week, another tricky encounter.