A hard fought win at Oil Mill Lane last Sunday saw Exmouth keep up the battle for a play-off spot in the Fisherman’s Cup Final. Having booked a place in the Devon Cup Final before Easter the Cockles wanted league points against Exeter Youth and they delivered with a bonus point win.
The Exmouth side was made to work hard for the win and at times the contest got very intense. But the win was well deserved as the visitors captured some of the momentum which served them well in their semi-final against Ivybridge.
The pace and commitment shown from the first minute was impressive and into the wind the pack drove well around the breakdown and from line out ball. A driven maul led to the first and second tries from Justice and both were converted by Cooke, playing at outside half.
Exeter, on a run of three wins, came back strong and the home tight head nearly crossed the Exmouth line but stout defence prevented a breach. A penalty allowed Exmouth to clear the ball away. The turnaround score was 0-14.
After the break Exeter, in brightly coloured Holland tour shirts, came back strong and Exmouth had to work hard to compete in defence. A stolen line out allowed the home team’s midfield to make big gains and scored, using the extra space from the turnover, with the outside centre getting the hosts some points. This was the highlight of a good performance from the 13 who earned Exmouth’s vote for Man of the Match.
Exeter had some success during this period, gaining ground with forward drives, but Exmouth soaked this up, turned the ball over, used the wind and took play back into Exeter territory.
Exmouth kept the ball tight and there was little wide-running but the backs defended well and most Youth attacks were closed down very quickly. Another driven maul led to Justice’s hat-trick try and the final score for the Cockles came after sustained pressure and several scrums near the Exeter try-line. Sam Fulthorpe, a former Exeter player, ran strongly from the base of the scrum and, shrugging off two tacklers got Exmouth the last points. None of the second half tries were converted and the final score was 5-24 to Exmouth.
Once again the commitment from all the players and substitutes was outstanding and the defence, at all times whole-hearted, is improving in terms of organisation. Kick-chasing was also impressive as clearances and attacking kicks led to substantial territory gains as the full-back and wingers were closed down quickly. One particular chase led to a 5 metre attacking scrum as the defender was forced into the Exeter try area and hauled down.
In such a good all round team performance it is difficult to select key individuals but Exeter awarded Ethan Justice Man of the Match and the Cockle’s Coach made Fulthorpe his Man of the Match.