NATIONAL THREE SOUTH & WEST
NEWTON ABBOT 22 – EXMOUTH 15
The well publicised views of the Exmouth coach, Jon Hill, seemed to inspire the “All Whites” more than his own side as the Rackerhayes based outfit completed the double.
Home captain Ben Cole
took the unusual step of reading from various press cuttings as part of his pre-match talk. The desired effect was evident as his side were never behind against the team that started the day as league Leaders.
Hill’s side started the strongest but it was Newton who were soon in front. Scrum-half Matt Newman
put a kick down the right touchline, visiting full back Jon Fabian was caught in possession and when the ball went loose his opposite number Josh Smith
kicked it on. The ensuing ruck on the Exmouth line was won with No. 8 Brett Stroud
scoring from short range.
Rob Avery-Wright missed the conversion before the visitor’s fly half Andrew Powell missed a penalty.
Successful penalties were then exchanged by the opposing number tens: followed by an equalising try from Exmouth.
A series of well organised driving mauls took the visiting pack up the touchline from halfway and when a penalty was kicked to the corner lock Jack Fahy was driven over from short range to level the scores on 25 minutes.
However by the turn, Avery-Wright’s second penalty had Newton back in front.
The decisive spell of the game came early in the second spell. Powell chased up his own up and under, but miss timed his challenge on Smith, who was tackled in the air as he collected the ball resulting in an inevitable yellow card.
The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner, the lineout won but the catch and drive defended well by Exmouth. Newton shipped the ball first left and then back right where Eddie McGinlay found himself with space to score on the end of an overlap.
The conversion was missed, but Avery-Wright soon found the target with a third penalty, which meant a 50th minute 19-8 lead.
Powell returned and uncharacteristically missed a relatively straightforward penalty attempt. His side then began to show a greater sense of urgency, but again, against the run of play, it was Newton who scored.
A “Cockles” three-quarter move broke down, the ball was hacked up-field, their defence was caught in possession and conceded a simple penalty that Avery-Wright popped over to leave two converted tries between the sides but with still a quarter of the game left.
In increasingly difficult conditions, Exmouth put Newton’s line under a lot of pressure, but the home pack held out in spite of being reduced to fourteen; Cole in the bin, and then to thirteen as Pete Mortimore
joined his captain.
Cole was back on by the time visiting prop George Savage scored an injury time try converted by Powell, which earned a bonus point in defeat.
Avery-Wright had time to restart the game, but when his kick-off was fumbled, the referee brought proceedings to a close with Newton keeping their 100% Devon derby record intact.
In spite of this win, their eleventh, Newton remain fourth, one point behind Weston-Super-Mare who won 46-3 at basement club Maidenhead.
Exmouth, who have only dropped points to the “All Whites” and new leaders London Irish, still remain one of the favourites for promotion.
Newton now have a two-week break before they make the long trek up the motorway to Sunbury-on-Thames, the home ground of London Irish Wild Geese who won the earlier game at Rackerhayes 35-28.
All the Newton Abbot teams have tomorrow off, but there isn’t a shortage of action over the Festive week.
On Boxing Day, the club will be putting on their annual Exiles match, which will be preceded by the Thirds taking on a Veterans side.
The highlight promises to be next Saturday when a memorial match for former captain Duncan Christophers will take place, kick-off 2.00pm. A side, comprising of many of the Devon Cup winning team that beat Brixham under Christophers’ captaincy, is being assembled to take on Torbay Sharks, who Christophers played for after “retiring” from the game.
The ever popular sportsman sadly died suddenly at the Club’s annual dinner and dance back in May; it is hoped that a big crowd will come along and support what will be a fund-raising day to create a Sporting Trust in Duncan’s memory.