Lacemen battle so well before being edged out at Penryn

PUBLISHED: 09:53 31 October 2018

Action from the Honiton 1st XV home win over Liskeard and Looe. Picture CONTRIBUTED

Action from the Honiton 1st XV home win over Liskeard and Looe. Picture CONTRIBUTED

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Honiton suffered a third successive Tribute Cornwall and Devon Division defeat on Cornish soil when they went down 21-15 on their visit to Penryn, writes Jerry Rice.

The Lacemen’s bid to avoid another Duchy defeat was dealt a blow as they travelled without four front line forwards, including influential player-coach Nathan Hannay.

The absences led to young Sam Olive making his senior debut, starting in the number six berth.

The bench also included debutants to the 1st XV squad in Mike Knuckey and Andy Easton.

Honiton began well, pegging the hosts back and they struck first when good retention of the ball allowed the backs to create space out wide and Jake Smith went over in the corner, but, in difficult kicking conditions, the Cave conversion was unsuccessful.

From the restart Penryn looked to pressure the Honiton attack, but the Lacemen’s defence was solid pressure that forced a home mistake that led to a scrum from which the Honiton back line demonstrated good running lines, cutting open the Penryn defence to send Ben Webber over off first phase ball. Cave converted to take Honiton into a 12-0 lead.

Penryn hit back with a converted try.

The remainder of the half saw further Honiton pressure, indeed the match official described the Lacemen’s domination as ‘relentless’ throughout the opening 22 minutes, but, unfortunately, mistakes from Honiton prevented further scores and half-time arrived with Honiton holding a narrow 12-7 lead.

The second half started in similar frantic style!

The home side pressed, but the Honiton defence, with Harry Wright and Louis Groves leading the tackling count, was equal to the best of the Penryn attacking play.

The sustained pressure, however, led to Penryn making in-roads into the red zone, eventually forcing a converted try to edge ahead in a 14-12 lead.

The Lacemen responded well to falling behind for the first time and swiftly regained the lead with a Cave penalty.

Once again Penryn upped the tempo, but again Honiton’s defence appeared to be comfortably coping with the repeated attacks, until a lapse in decision-making, trying to play out from deep in their own half, nearly gifted Penryn a try.

The near miss unsettled the Honiton defence, and the home side capitalised on this to go over for a converted score to lead 21-15.

Honiton regained their composure from the restart and ended the game as the dominant force. They were dealt a blow with the loss of Ben Logan to a serious head injury. However, spurred on by fresh legs from the bench, the Honiton defence forced a turnover around halfway following superb defensive pressure. Yards were gained before possession was lost out wide.

Again, strong counter rucking regained the ball. The whole team worked hard to drive the ball deep into the Penryn 22, setting up the opportunity to press for the crucial score.

With the forwards out on their feet from the inspired effort to get in reach of the try line, the ball was fired wide to cross the whitewash. Alas, under severe pressure, with the try line within reach, the ball was knocked on before it could be touched down.

On reflection, it was a tough result to take after a superb team performance, so nearly bringing home the win.

All three debutants impressed in a tight match, with Adam Thompson making an impact from the bench in his recent return to the side.

Man of the Match was a tough pick with a number of outstanding performances; Harry Wright narrowly shaded back row partner Lois Groves for the award.

Good news was received later that Ben Logan’s injury wasn’t as serious as initially feared, with him being discharged from hospital later that evening.

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