1st XV 'Saints'
Sat 11 Nov 2023  ·  Regional 1 South West
St Austell RFC
1st XV 'Saints'
Tries: K EwudziPenalties: M Shepherd (4)Yellow Carded: K Marriott
The Okes are felled with the last kick of the game

The Okes are felled with the last kick of the game

Paul Hayes13 Nov 2023 - 07:47
Share via

It’s a first win on the road for the Saints in a tight teazy contest in Dartmoor

St Austell gained their first away win of the season in an evenly contested attritional battle at Okehampton. There was little to choose between the two sides who cancelled each other out for large portions of a game which only really burst into life in a dramatic finale decided by the boot.

The game was preceded by an impeccably observed act of Remembrance before getting underway under bright blue skies on a lovely windless autumnal day up on the Moors of Dartmoor. The Saints held sway in the first quarter to put the home side under pressure who were conceding penalties at a rapid rate. The visitors opted to go for touch in their quest for an early try but a mixture of poor execution and good defence kept the home line intact. Hooker Pete Harris was almost in, but the move was cut short due to mistimed runs by the decoy runners crossing in front of the ball carrier. A Sam Parsons break broke the gain line but a shirt pull on the supporting Matt Shepherd went unseen by the Referee to the frustration of the visiting supporters.

The Saints were to pay the price for not taking the points on offer when Okehampton scored with their first purposeful attack. Fly-half Matt Shepherd was hit hard and late, leaving the Saints talisman in a heap near the touchline on the 40m mark. The home side exploited the gap in the middle with a thunderous break by their big second row to move play into the 22. The Oke pack showed excellent teamwork and cohesion to retain the ball through a series of drives before scoring a converted try on 22 minutes (7-0). Home tails were now up, and the Saints were under immense pressure as Okehampton looked to extend their lead. The Cornishmen had to dig deep to keep the marauding gold and marron shirts at bay, the defence kept the try line in tact but at the expense of two penalties expertly kicked by Oke full back Luke Simmons 13-0. Saints rallied late in the half, with Matt Shepherd able to claw back three points from the penalty tee and there was still time for the restart (13-3). The visitors secured the ball from the kick and launched a counter attack against a defence that was out of position for perhaps the first time in the game. Sam Parsons was quick to spot the opportunity out wide and flung a long pass to Konnor Ewudzi, the flying winger did well to gather the ball and then out pace the defence to make the score 13-8 at the interval.

The second half turned into something of a stale mate with frequent stoppages preventing any rhythm and stifling any momentum. The Saints enjoyed a purple patch around the 50-minute mark when they finally got some tempo into their play. The passage of play was brought to shuddering halt with a high tackle and with the errant home flanker consigned to the sin bin, Matt Shepherd closed the gap with another converted penalty (13-11). The game was never easy on the eye, while both sides were high on endeavour neither team was unable to sustain any quality in attack against aggressive well organised defences. The stage was set for a tense and nerve-jangling finale when Oke strayed offside allowing Matt Shepherd to nudge the Saints into the lead for the first time in the game with just seven minutes to go (13-14). The home side redoubled their efforts and gained a foothold in the Saints 22 to put the visitors under intense pressure. The Cornish defence held firm and were indebted to an interception from Konnor Ewudzi that prevented a probable try. Calamity struck at the resulting lineout when the Saints were penalised for interfering with the jumper and Okehampton were awarded a penalty, 35m out with just two minutes remaining. The Showground was in hushed silence as Luke Simmons prepared for the kick, but then roared in delight as the ball sailed over for what the majority present thought was the winning score (16-14). The referee confirmed there was time for a restart and an excellent kick chase by replacement winger Max Bullen ensured that Oke were unable to kick the ball out. The pass went in-field but not quiet to hand and flanker Rhys Daniel was first on the scene forcing Okehampton to hold on to the ball. A shrill blast and Saints had a penalty 45m out with the match official confirming it would be the last kick of the game. For the second time in a matter of minutes the Showground was stunned into silence, this time it really would be the decisive kick. Right on the edge of his kicking range, Matt Shepherd shut out the odd errant catcall as he addressed the ball and then calmy stroke over the winning kick to make the final score 16-17 to the delight of the Saints players and travelling supporters.

While the game may not live long in the memory, the finish certainly will, and the Saints deserve great credit for a dogged performance. Okehampton is always a tough place to be play and the visitors showed great tenacity and determination to stay in the game.
Next week the Saints travel up to the Somerset coast looking to make it three wins in three games when they visit Western-super-Mare RFC (KO1 4:30)

Saints Star Man: Joe Maunder – An excellent return in the lineout and an ever-present in his tackling duties as part of a strong defensive team effort and carried the ball well.

1 Dan Job; 2 Peter Harris; 3 Charlie Nicholson; 4 Joe Maunder; 5 Mark Vian (Captain); 6 Rory Jago; 7 Cam Taylor; 8 Kyle Marriott; 9 CJ Boyce; 10 Matt Shepherd; 11 Dan Tyrrell; 12 Sam Parsons; 13 Ben Plummer 14 Konnor Ewudzi; 15 Archie Bees

Reps (All used):
Matt Boothby; Rhys Daniel; Max Bullen

St Austell:
Tries – Konnor Ewudzi (40 +2)
Cons – Matt Shepherd (38, 52, 73, 80 +4)
Pens –
Yellow card – Kyle Marriott (76)

Tries – Daniel Butt (21)
Cons – Luke Simmons (22)
Pens – Luke Simmons (31, 37, 77)
Yellow card – Saul Holliday (52)

Match details

Match date

Sat 11 Nov 2023




Regional 1 South West

League position

St Austell
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Kit & Matchday Sponsor - Sharps Molson Coors
Player Sponsor - Coastal Building and Joinery LTD
Player Sponsor - River Valley Holiday Park
Player Sponsor - Chris Powley Electrical Services
Player Sponsor - Davey Digger Hire
Player and programme Sponsor - The Hewas Inn
Player Sponsor - Duke of Cornwall Supporters Club
Player Sponsor - Rebellion Roast House & Moonshine Bar
Player Sponsor - The Polgooth Inn
Player Sponsors - Paul & Jan Hayes
Player Sponsor - JAWS
Player Sponsor - P.C.Tonkin & Son
After Match Shirts / Player  - Adam Kellow Plastering
Player Sponsor - D Nottle Scaffolding
Pitchside/Programme/Matchday Sponsor - River Valley Garage
Kit Sponsor - Build Cornwall
Senior Kit Sponsor  - D Nottle Scaffolding
Kit Sponsors - Cornwall Mortgages
Player Sponsor - Duke of Cornwall Pub
Player Sponsor - Top Notch Joinery
Senior Shirt Sponsor & Pitch side Board Sponsor - Gripsure UK
Player & Kit Sponsor - The Par Inn
Senior Shorts Sponsor - CraneTec
Kit Partner - Samurai
Shirt Sponsor - Build Cornwall
Senior Shirt Sponsor - Cornwall Mortgages
Senior Kit Sponsor - Noott Marine