Lacemen brush aside off-pitch woes to record superb victory over Saltash
- Credit: Archant
After a rather depressing week coping with a mindless arson attack on the club’s property, Honiton RFC, with the help of some very generous friends, managed to return to the business of playing rugby, writes Jerry Rice.
After weather lay-offs this was Honiton’s first outing in four weeks while visiting Saltash, who are currently in third spot in the league table, went into the game off the back of two 80 point plus victories in their last two outings.
In addition, Saltash are also into the last four of the national cup competition and they handed Honiton a heavy beating in the fixture the clubs played in South East Cornwall earlier in the season.
So, even for the most optimistic of Honiton supporters, this was going to be a difficult game – by anyone’s standard.
Honiton elected to play up the field and, given all the snow and rain of late, conditions were always going to be heavy under foot.
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The visitors clearly showed their intentions and quality and Honiton struggled to get much possession in the first ten minutes and were very much in defensive mode for the early exchanges.
However, as the game went on, confidence grew for the Lacemen and, from a patient build-up, a line-out on the visitors’ five metre line saw the pack execute a perfect catch-and-drive routine that ended fittingly with skipper Will Goulden crossing for the opening try.
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Ollie Cave converted to give Honiton a seven point lead.
With confidence up, Honiton again went close, but stout defence kept them out and maybe going for the try rather than kicking for goal from a penalty was an error of judgement as the try went begging. Saltash always looked dangerous and Honiton had to defend for their lives and there was also two great try-saving tackles from fullback Kyle Blackmore that kept them at bay, but right on the stroke of half-time they gave away a penalty that was kicked, but Honiton still held a 7-3 interval lead.
The Lacemen introduced player-coach Nathan Hannay, returning after a lengthy injury, at the start of the second half.
From the restart the Cornish side were the brighter and they slotted an early penalty to move within a point of the home side.
With the slope advantage, Honiton started to look dangerous, but from a promising attack a mix-up in the midfield saw them spill the ball and they were punished as a quick transfer of the ball to the wide channel saw the visitors score a good try to go ahead for the first time in the contest.
Honiton could have let heads drop, but they dug deep and came back strongly. Cave slotted a penalty in front of the posts to reduce the deficit to a single point at 11-10.
Saltash started to crack, and a yellow card gave Honiton the advantage. The pack took control, and, from a good up and under, the chase from Blackmore saw a kind bounce and saw him clear. However, he was hauled down just short of the line, but having secured the ball a couple of pick-and-goes saw Hannay off-load to Rice, who transferred the ball to Ollie Hyland and he crossed unopposed.
Honiton had to hold their nerve and they did. Saltash had a player dismissed for a kick in a ruck. Cave then struck a penalty and there was no way back for the visitors and Honiton pulled off a great victory winning by 18-11.
This was a great game to watch and a great win for a Honiton side growing in confidence.
It was a great team performance all round, but Philip Cook was awarded the Lacemen’s Man of the Match award. There’s little doubt that this hard fought win showed Honiton RFC at its best and the off-field fire problems have only served to bring the club closer together.