With glorious North Devon sunshine and a strong breeze to enjoy, Exmouth U16s wanted to build on their good start to the season at Barnstaple. The Cockles started well, into the wind, and rather dominated their hosts but against the run of play Barum fly-hacked the ball into the Exmouth half and the chase was won by a home player. Barum scored another try and added a penalty to hold a surprising lead by half-time 13-3.
In the second half Barum began to match the Exmouth scrum but couldn’t stop Wibberley touching down from a line out drive. The gap was closing but a poor re-start and weak tackling led to another converted home try which might have troubled a TMO in a tier 1 game.
The game continued to ebb and flow but Exmouth gained lots of ground when Fulthorpe gathered an Exmouth re-start and took play close to the Barum line. The Home side couldn’t clear effectively and some drives following a scrum saw Macefield being driven over the line to score a try, Ottoway converted 20-15.
There was as sense of déjà-vu as Barum came straight back and scored another home try. Time was running out but Exmouth still battled on and a well-executed back move saw Schuaffler running hard to score; Cooke converted quickly. Exmouth earned another shot at points to tie the match but, like England against Wales, went for a line out, and, again like England, came away with only a losing bonus as the home team prevailed 25-23.
There were many positives for Exmouth in this entertaining game but one difference may have been the home team adjusting to the visiting American referee’s breakdown rulings more quickly than the visitors. Man of the Match was awarded to Finn Urmston.