Honiton safe from relegation worries
- Credit: Archant
Honiton achieved a dramatic last-gasp win on Saturday to secure their survival in the Cornwall & Devon Division for another season, writes Roger Dance.
In front of a large crowd who had all been fed and watered as part of the vice-presidents’ Luncheon, Honiton entertained Cornish visitors Falmouth.
The visitors earlier in the year beat Honiton at home convincingly, by 38 -11 so it was going to be a tough ask.
But a win for Honiton would secure league survival with three games to go, so with the ground firm and a lovely spring day the stage was set for a good contest.
Honiton, with first use of the slope, started brightly and on seven minutes Ben Webber slotted a penalty to settle nerves.
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Falmouth looked good and only sound tackling kept them at bay and it was clear this was going to be a closely contested game.
A kick to the corner set up a line out in Club House corner and a clean catch was swiftly spun across the backs to arrive in Stefan Archer’s hands.
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Archer had a bit to do before he made the line with defenders hanging off him.
Honiton were then eight up but Falmouth were not out of it and with a good goal kicker in Justyn Irons narrowed the deficit to just two points with two well-struck penalties in quick succession.
At half-time Honiton were only 8-6 to the good.
Honiton, now defending the slope had it all to do and for 36 minutes it was a battle of defences with neither side giving an inch.
Just when Honiton felt they had done enough, Irons slotted a penalty to take Falmouth ahead for the first time and it looked to all as if Honiton were down and out.
From the restart Honiton regained the ball and there was hope, but when the ball was spilled and it was a scrum to the Cornishmen the ref declared that this was the last play.
All Falmouth had to do was win the scrum and kick the ball dead. To his credit, Robert Price and the pack hooked the ball against the put in and Honiton broke from the base.
The whistle went as Falmouth’s defence was offside. Scrum half Luke Witton tapped and went again and again, he caught the defence not retreating and Honiton won another penalty this time on the 22 in front of the sticks.
Honiton called for ‘posts’ and Webber was summoned to take what was a win-or-lose kick.
The suspense was unbearable as Webber stepped up and several in the crowd could not look. Coolly, he bisected the post and the players and crowd went wild as the get-out-of-jail card was well and truly played.
The 11- 9 result means Honiton are assured of Devon and Cornwall rugby for another year and in what has been a difficult season playing- wise the endeavours on the day were a tremendous credit to the players.
Webber was understandably given the man of the match accolade but, with no tries concede during the game, the defensive qualities of all was the cornerstone for this narrow if some what lucky win.
If I was to pick out anyone, it would probably be Will Goulden who unassumingly smashed people, scrummed and stole ball in the loose, but all-round a great team effort much helped by a large, partisan crowd.