Honiton edged out at North Petherton in opening warm-up game

Honiton 2nds at home to Exeter Eng. Ref mhsp 41-16TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to Exeter Eng. Ref mhsp 41-16TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Honiton were edged out 24-19 when they took to the pitch on Friday evening in Somerset for their first warm-up match ahead of the new campaign which gets underway early next month.

The opposition were South West One outfit North Petherton who play a division above the level that the Lacemen will be playing in this season.

Given that Honiton went into the game missing several players and with conditions not good - Friday's rain making the playing surface heavy and slippery, Lacemen supporters would have been forgiven for 'fearing the worst' ahead of the match.

However, the contest was a close one throughout. Indeed, the Lacemen were always 'in the game' and could quite easily have emerged as the winners.

Honiton started brightly skipper Harry Wright crossed for the game's first try which was followed by a second from Will Goulden. Tom Steer converted the second try and Honiton held a 12-0 lead.

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As is the norm in such warm-up game, both sides made a raft of changes. However, with Honiton fielding a small squad for the game, some of their changes were enforced by injury.

In the third quarter, North Petherton struck twice with tries created from forward pressure. Tom Steer scored a fine individual try for the Lacemen who went into the final quarter leading 19-12.

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With 10 minutes remaining the Somerset side drew level and then they claimed the match honours with a last gasp try.

Honiton's Jerry Rice said: "Despite the loss it was a pretty impressive performance and was certainly a great game to watch.

"The homes sides strength in depth, particularly in final quarter when Honiton were down to the bare bones."

He continued: "Everyone played out of their skins. Tom Steer at fly half controlled the game well and his out of hand kicking in the first half was spot on. He also kept the backs attacking and with Tomo, Coutes, Cavey, Webber, Hawks, Tyers and Smith, there is no doubt as with last year this is a key strength for the team and, with young Sam Heathcott joining the ranks and looking good on the night, competition for places will hot up.

"Cookie and Angus Meadows shared the number nine duties for the evening so competition for that shirt will be on-going."

Rice added: "Huge credit must got to veteran locks Nick Guilbert and Louie Lane who both had to put in 80 minute shifts - and both did the business against some monster opposition!"

Honiton forwards coach Charlie Wright and manager Brendon Findlay must have been happy with the evenings work and reports back to head coach Alex Brooks will have been of a positive nature. Brooks missed the game as he was getting married the following day!

If there are any concerns for Honiton followers from the opening warm-up game it might be that the size of the squad and strength in depth for the long season ahead is a slight cause for concern. However, Honiton showed last year that they are a good tight unit and, with the same resources as in previous years, they should hold their own at the higher level.

The next Honiton warm-up game is an August 31 visit to North Tawton.

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