Honiton 20, Devonport Services 23

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Honiton lost a tough encounter narrowly at Allhallows on Saturday afternoon 23-20 to Devonport Services, writes Nick Guilbert.

On a very sticky pitch the Lacemen showed good endeavour all game but were undone by a strong Plymothian scrummage that twisted and turned the home side all day.

The East Devon side opted to play down the slope in the first half in a bid to create a lead. They balanced a solid game with sensible kicking and Webber struck with two penalties to give Honiton a six point advantage. The Servicemen were predictably strong in the contact area and played a structured game, but failed to trouble the Lacemen in open play.

Honiton again moved into the bottom half of the field. Devonport acquired possession and moved the ball into the centre of the field from their left. From the ensuing ruck they continued passing to the right only to find man of match Garman reading the passage of play with a fine interception. Garman raced in unopposed from 25 yards for a converted score that Webber converted.

Honiton had a score to defend and they kept the civil servants at bay until the last 10 minutes of the half when the home side committed a number unforced errors provided territory for the away side. Numerous scrummages followed, and Devonport turned the screw on Honiton who had no answer to the power. Eventually the Servicemen burrowed over to narrow the deficit going into the break.

Honiton started the second half brightly but it was clear that the scrum was to become a massive issue. Devonport hit the Lacemen hard in this area at every opportunity and the home side had to soak up some hard stuff.

Devonport went into the lead from another good scrum and Honiton were up against it. They responded with the try of the game, and possibly their season as a turnover in the middle of the field provided Selway with the chance to give Meadows quality ball. Meadows, who travels to Australia at the end of the week, has been a good servant to the club since his return from Exmouth.

He fed Hill who found Hannay and Garman. The three interchanged passes again as they romped up the left to put Hannay over the line in the left hand channel to the delight of the home crowd. Webber converted superbly from out wide in horrendous kicking conditions.

Honiton were into the lead, but again Devonport used their scrum to acquire another five points from an eight pick and go. This made it 23-20 and Honiton had 10 minutes to pull it out of the bag.

Webber was unlucky with a long shot at goal, before Honiton had a chance up to kick to the top left hand corner.

Meadows did the honours finding touch. Honiton went to two, but had the ball stripped from them in the maul. Fortunately Devonport strayed into touch. This time Honiton went to four but the ball couldn’t be gathered and the away side escaped.

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