Exmouth went headlong in this Devon Cup Final with heart and determination. Arranged for a holiday weekend by the Devon RFU it was always going to be tough however the young Cockles side that took to the field put in an effort to please their travelling faithful.
Ultimately Nat 2 promotion chasing Barnstaple were on fine form and deserved their 61-22 win. The rugby with 12 tries shared between the teams, entertained the crowd on a sunny, hot Easter Saturday.
Skipper on the day James Harris marshaled his young troops and definitely led by example throughout the afternoon. Along with fellow back row Connor O’Shaughnessy, stand in 10 Mark Wathes and centre Nick Headley, the only remaining regular first teams players worked hard all day. Barnstaple got off to an early lead with 3 tries during the first twenty minutes before Scrum Half Sam Fulthorpe kicked a penalty. Two more tries on the half hour put the hosts well in front before the Cockles got some reward for their incursions in to the Barum red zone. Industrious back row Ethan Langson Justice was on the end of some great forward work to score his try just before half time, 33-8, Fulthorpe missed the extras. The Cockles did make inroads during the half with Harvey Ridgeway, George Mears, and Will Hockin trying to get the ball out wide and make line breaks where they could.
Just after the restart Barnstaple struck again, before The Cockles settled in to a clearer pattern of play. In fact the following twenty minutes the visitors had the better period with the front row, Charlie Tribble, James Goss with Paul Flower carrying big. The engine room 2nd rows Erin Inglis and Will Bright put themselves around the park supported by the ever present back row. On sixty minutes, after a prolonged spell Erin Inglis finally cut through the defence to score close to the posts, converted by Sam Fulthorpe. Four minutes later, after some tricky footwork from Jake Inglis, mercurial Mark Wathes ghosted in close to the post for try number 3, once again converted by Fulthorpe. Barum were prickled by the resurgence. The Cockles had started to unload their bench during the final 20 minutes and handed first team debuts to Callum Wood, Matt Seager, Connor Smithers and Andrew Smith, with a returning Tony Emmins taking to the field. Barnstaple did run in two more scores to close out the afternoon. Tries from Winston James, Will Topps, Jake Murphy, Luke Berry and Kevin Angell with conversions from Murphy completed their scoring.
Always a tough ask for The Cockles with so many regular first team starters unavailable however the lads that took to the park deserved the applause from both sets of supporters for their commitment to compete.
Runners Up in the Devon Cup Final for 2019 was a fair outcome on the day.