Honiton RFC 1st XV 26, Kingsbridge 34

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Honiton lost out to Kingsbridge in a very entertaining encounter at Allhallows. The Lacemen showed a positive spirit and grafted all afternoon with the only real difference being a 20 minute spell following the break when the wheels fell off the Lacemens’ chariot, writes Nick Guilbert.

Playing up the slope Honiton, having forced a knock to win a scrum, they were unable to kick clear and turned over. They defended around 10 phases before the fishermen found a chink in the armour on the left and the winger bounced over for an unconverted try.

Honiton went from the re-start but soon again found themselves defending near their line, and they were breached again in the centre for another five pointer.

With 10 minutes gone the Lacemen hadn’t really had the ball and when they did obtain possession they looked after it. Moving the ball from left to right from a scrum they battered around the fringes with the forwards, eventually winning a penalty on the ten yard line. Meadows converted well to make it 3-10. A mistake from the kick off provided Kingsbridge with a scrummage towards clubhouse corner but excellent work from the Honiton pack forced several re-sets and eventually an apple turnover. From the platform the home side worked upfield, but couldn’t acquire further points.

The blue and whites came at the Lacemen once more and their well-drilled nature allowed them to make yards and batter the line. Eventually they crossed to make the score 3-17.

It was relentless stuff from Kings. Whilst they were down on the scoreboard, the Lacemen had been defending relatively well, but the Kings’ ball retention had won out on three occasions. During this pattern of South Devon offence the East Devon defence won out, as a loose ball was pounced on by the alert Small. He hacked on from his own 20 all the way to the top 22 before gathering and being stopped just a yard short. As the cavalry arrived, Meadows was impeded from crossing by a “lazy runner”, leading to a penalty try. At 10-17 Honiton were well back in the hunt and a huge effort from the side saw the sides go in with the same scores.

Honiton knew that they were well in the game and that it was there for the taking if they applied themselves. The foundation for the good first half was built on a lack of personal errors, a low penalty count, and a solid scrummage, but when Honiton gave away three quick penalties they soon found themselves in their own red zone and Kingsbridge scored three times.

Way re-entered the fray to stabilise the scrummage and Honiton rallied. Firstly through a Meadows’ penalty and then with play deep in Kingsbridge’s territory a driving maul saw a penalty try awarded for pulling it down. Honiton were in the ascendancy and although they again were forced to defend deep in their own territory Small pounced on a loose ball to take play quickly down into Kingsbridge territory. Selway tapped and went to find Dobson and Webber who carried to the 22, in behind the defence. Play swept to Barratt who skinned his man on the outside for another seven pointer.

With 10 minutes to go, Honiton were in with a shout of two bonus points if not the win, but they just could not muster the last couple scores before the final whistle went.

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