1st XV 'Saints'
Sat 06 Jan 2024  ·  Regional 1 South West
St Austell RFC
1st XV 'Saints'
Tries: C Boyce, M Bullen, R Daniel, C Nicholson, A BeesConversions: M ShepherdYellow Carded: M Bullen, C Boyce
Cockles Out-Mussel Saints in Seven Try Seaside Thriller!

Cockles Out-Mussel Saints in Seven Try Seaside Thriller!

Paul Hayes8 Jan - 12:04
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Two bonus points the consolation as Exmouth snatch the win in entertaining New Year opener.

It was an incident packed encounter on the banks of the river Exe that blew the cobwebs off after the two-week Christmas and New Year break. A highly competitive game dotted with five yellow cards was in the balance right to the final whistle. The hosts were in the ascendency in the first half but found the Saints defence a hard nut to crack and a potent counter attack kept the visitors in the game at the break. The Cornishmen were the better side in the second period and roared into a 22-13 lead on the hour mark and were ominously looking likely to stretch the lead further. Indiscipline let the home side off the hook and the Saints were left shell shocked when the Cockles of Exmouth scored two converted tries to snatch the lead. The Cornishmen pounded the line deep into time added on but just could not find the finishing touch to secure a win.

Exmouth RFC deserve great credit for ensuring the game went ahead as the Imperial Recreation Ground was completely underwater just two days earlier. The cessation of the monsoon on Thursday and 48 hours of drying winds and hard work from the grounds team meant that except for a few boggy patches, the surface was good under foot. The hosts kicked off under clear blue skies and a chilly breeze and dominated the opening exchanges. The Saints defence stood firm to frustrate the home side who had to settle for a meagre three-point return for eight minutes of constant pressure (3-0).

The Saints were now growing into the game and Exmouth centre Nicholas Headley received the game’s first yellow card when he stopped a quickly taken tap penalty. A flowing move with a lovely interchange of passes between the Saints half-backs saw scrum half CJ Boyce shoot over for a try (3-5). The Saints were struggling to keep on the right side of the match official and winger Max Bullen was sent to the sin-bin as the referee finally lost patience with the number of transgressions. A change of props by Exmouth reaped rewards with the home pack gaining control in the scrum and it was no surprise when number eight David Bargent drove over from a set-piece (10-5). Saints were further punished when they drifted offside at the restart and full-back Gareth Roebuck, who had a flawless day at the kicking tee, slotted the penalty (13-5). With the interval looming the Saints’ backs launched a high pace attack with winger Max Bullen scoring in the corner (13-10).

The Saints started the second half at a ferocious pace to put the home side under pressure from the kick-off. Increasingly desperate defence eventually saw Exmouth prop Bradely Skinner become the latest member of the Yellow Card Club. A powerful catch and drive was finished off in style by flanker Rhys Daniel to put the Saints in front again (13-17). While the visitors were now on top they were grateful for a brilliant try saving tackle by winger Dan Tyrrell who snuffed out a threatening Exmouth counterattack. The Saints continued to dominate proceedings and it was prop Charlie Nicholson who completed the formalities on another lineout maul, this time in the opposite corner, to stretch the lead to 13-22 on 56 minutes. Exmouth caught the visitors in back slapping mode to score an excellent counterattacking try with winger Jake Inglis storming in at the corner, Roebuck’s touchline conversion closed the gap to just two points at 20-22.

The Saints were soon back in control and looked odds on to secure their third catch and drive try of the afternoon. All was going to plan with Mark Vian securing the ball but before the maul could be launched, Exmouth somehow broke through to force it loose. A scrum for a knock-on was awarded, leaving the Saints feeling aggrieved as they felt the Exmouth player had entered from the side. Unfortunately the protestations went too far leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty for backchat. The mark was moved forward 10m and the home side lifted the siege and crucially gained a foothold in the Saints half. The momentum shift was complete when quick thinking scrum half Matthew Ryan tapped a penalty to make a dash for the line, although stopped short the ball was recycled for prop Jack Madge to crash over. Roebuck’s conversion made it 27-22 and crucially meant the Saints now needed a converted try to win and were down to 14 men with CJ Boyce the latest to spend time on the touchline.

The final minutes saw the Cornishmen lay siege to the Exmouth line and when number eight Bargent was yellow carded for preventing release of the ball hopes were high that the 5m lineout would deliver the score. With the clock in the red, Exmouth again somehow managed to dislodge the ball from the Saints handlers to kill the move in its infancy. The Saints looked to the referee for a penalty for an infringement but the whistle that shrilled was the final one to the delight of the home team.

Once the disappointment of defeat had subsided there were lots of positives to taken from what was a good away performance from the Saints. Four tries, an excellent first team debut for youngster Jamie Stanlake in the centre, further experience at level five for Jake Arms and Kaydan Michael and a successful return from injury for Tom Daniel were all things on the credit side of the ledger. Indiscipline was an issue in the first half although there was marked improvement in the second period, the Saints will rue their loss of composure that allowed an easy exit for Exmouth when the home side were trapped on their 5m line at a critical point in the game.

Two bonus points and lessons learnt the Saints are looking forward to welcoming Ivybridge to Tregorrick in a crucial match in a 2:30pm kick-off next Saturday 13th January 2024.

Saints Star Man: Rhys Daniel – Hard working and committed display in defence and attack was rewarded with a try from a catch and drive.

1 Matt Boothby; 2 Miles Davey; 3 Charlie Nicholson; 4 Jake Arms; 5 Mark Vian (Captain); 6 Rhys Daniel; 7 Cam Taylor; 8 Kayden Michael; 9 CJ Boyce; 10 Matt Shepherd; 11 Dan Tyrrell; 12 Ben Plummer; 13 Jamie Stanlake; 14; Max Bullen 15 Archie Bees

Reps (All used):

Konnor Ewudzi; Dan Job; Tom Daniel

St Austell:
Tries – CJ Boyce (17); Max Bullen (39); Rhys Daniel (47); Charlie Nicholson (56)
Cons – Mat Shepherd (48)
Pens –
Yellow card – Max Bullen (27); CJ Boyce (73)

Tries – David Bargent (34); Jake Inglis (61); Jack Madge (73)
Cons – Gareth Roebuck (35, 62, 74)
Pens – Gareth Roebuck (8; 37)
Yellow card – Nicholas Headley (10); Bradely Skinner (45); David Bargent (77)

Match details

Match date

Sat 06 Jan 2024




Regional 1 South West

League position

St Austell
Team overview
Further reading

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