Newton Abbot 48 – Exmouth 42
90 point thriller played until the very end
After their only set-back of the season at Dings, Newton Abbot “All Whites” returned to winning ways in spectacular fashion against Exmouth who were back at Rackerhayes after their second brief stint in National Two South.
A large crowd was treated to a humdinger of a game that saw Newton come from behind three times before clinching victory with a second try from centre Matt Jess
in the 75th minute.
Even then the visitors had time to snatch victory, as Newton, whose lineout had not been accurate enough throughout, lost the ball at one on halfway and as a consequence found themselves defending a 5 metre lineout after Luke Mingo
had seen yellow for collapsing a driving maul. However, Exmouth failed to nail the throw-in and a knock on signalled the end of a pulsating match.
The “All Whites”, who have been conceding plenty of tries in spite of winning games, were once again profligate, finding themselves 17-nil adrift in as many minutes.
Exmouth generally played a narrow game and their first try came from No. 8 Ross Morshead who went through an unguarded ruck from 10 metres for the first score.
A pick and drive try dotted down by prop Tom Barnard followed. Fly half Tom Whelan, who had a near impeccable afternoon with the boot, converted both and then landed a penalty from 45 metres.
Up to this point, Newton had seen little possession, but when they got their hands on the ball, they showed how dangerous they could be.
First, Rob Avery-Wright
put over a penalty and from the ensuing scrum on half way - after the kick-off hadn’t gone 10 metres - Jess ran in from 40 metres to score for fly half Avery-Wright to convert.
Newton made a mess of the subsequent restart and the Exmouth forwards bustled their way to the home line for a try from prop Nick Halse that Whelan improved for a 24-10 lead.
Back came the “All Whites”, via surprise inclusion JJ Taulagi who arrived at Rackerhayes from Exeter Chiefs. The Samoan winger, who could get the call-up for his national team in the next month, showed his class with an individual try down the blindside of a scrum. His corner flag effort was converted by Avery-Wright who then added a penalty to narrow the gap to four points.
It was then into the lead for Newton - but not for long. A kick to the corner led to a catch and drive; when this was halted the ball went wide and Kyle Browne
weaved between his own centres and through the visitors defence for a try that was given full value by Avery-Wright. From the restart, Newton infringed, allowing Whelan to level at 27-all going into the break.
A defensive lineout cost Newton their next score; the ball was initially won, but Exmouth’s pack worked hard to turn it over and their captain, Jack Fahy, forced his way to the line from short range; Whelan was again on target with the conversion.
A penalty try for Newton levelled the scores again. Taulagi ran back a missed touch-kick enabling Newton to camp on Exmouth’s line; after a series of penalties and scrummages, referee Kevin Williams lost his patience and awarded a seven pointer and waved a yellow card at Halse.
Whelan’s third penalty of the afternoon had the Cockles back in front briefly, but a catch and drive try credited to replacement prop Tom White
- making his first appearance of the campaign - plus Avery-Wright’s wide-out conversion, put Newton back in front.
A rare three-quarter move resulting in a corner try for winger Matt Ryan saw Exmouth lead 42-41; Whelan’s missed conversion was the only unsuccessful attempt from either impressive kicker all afternoon.
Immediately from the restart, Jess - later named as “man of the match” - finished as he had started by running in from 40 metres; once again Avery-Wright was on target for a personal haul of 16 points.
The “All Whites” then had to survive - which they did just - to record their fifth win from six starts.
The day started with Dings at the top, Newton in second and Exmouth in third, and that is still the pecking order going into next weekend’s break.
The following week, Newton go to second from bottom Lydney, who are finding the going tough this term. The next home game is on 28th October when Ivybridge are the visitors. Before this match, the Newton Abbot past-players will be sitting down to lunch. Tickets are available from Mike Dart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hopefully another big crowd will be treated to more point scoring exploits – so far in three home games 244 points have been witnessed – what great entertainment!
The news elsewhere wasn’t so good. The Spartans went into Saturday’s Devon Merit Table One match unbeaten, but a low key performance saw them return home from Cullompton on the wrong end of a 25-22 score line.
Tries came from winger Josh Davey centre Callum Gill and fly half Jake Monnington, who also put over a couple of conversions and a penalty. In spite of this loss the Spartans retained top spot in the table.
The Colts played Exeter Youth on Homers Lane where they ended up the 19-5 losers. The home side trailed 12-5 for a long time after full-back Harry Bunclark had scored a try, but in spite of their best efforts couldn’t get back on level terms with the city side making sure of victory with a third try late on.