Honiton begin Western Counties campaign with home defeat to St Austell

Honiton rugby. Ref mscsp 48 17TI 3845. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton rugby. Ref mscsp 48 17TI 3845. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Honiton began life as a Tribute Western Counties West side with a 20-9 defeat at home to St Austell, writes Justin Nuttall.

The Cornish side finished fourth at this level last season and had added to their squad during the summer, so this opening game for the Lacemen was always going to be a 'baptism of fire'.

An early head injury to Matt Bailey led to Ross Watts taking his place and, when a penalty was awarded for holding on at the breakdown, Tom Steer slotted the kick to see Honiton into a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes.

Five minutes later Steer repeated the act and the Lacemen led 6-0.

The next score came when Honiton conceded a penalty outside the 22 and the kick was clean to leave the score 6-3.

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Ten minutes before the break a third Steer penalty restored the home lead to one of six points.

However, the half ended with the Cornish side on the front foot and the fifth successful penalty of a first half in which both defences held sway, and, when the whistle blew, the Lacemen headed into the break leading 9-6.

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In the second half, Honiton had the advantage of playing down the slope, but St Austell had some strong runners and, after a period of being camped inside the home 22, they powered over for a converted try that saw them into a 13-9 lead.

Injury struck again for the Lacemen with Ross Watts, himself a replacement for injury, left the game with a knee injury and then player-coach Alex Brooks succumbed to an ankle injury and the home effort was significantly hamstrung.

Despite some outstanding defending, the Lacemen's line was breached once more as the Cornish side closed out a 20-9 success.

For Honiton it was a good performance and they were defiantly in the mix until that late final score by the visitors.

Injuries hampered the home cause and the penalty count, particularly during the second half, leaves room for improvement!

There were some good individual performances especially in defence, but the Man of the Match award went to Ben Logan, who worked hard throughout.

Next up for the Lacemen is this Saturday's (September 14) visit to Teignmouth for their first away gam e of the new Western Countiess West campaign.

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