Lacemen end 16-year wait to lift the Dave Turner Memorial Cup
- Credit: Archant
Honiton Rugby Club kicked off the 2018/19 season with a double-header against Sidmouth, writes Jerry Rice.
For the 1st XV, it was the not-so-small matter of the Dave Turner Memorial Cup, which has been an annual contest played for years between the two rival clubs.
For the Lacemen, it has always been a difficult fixture as Sidmouth have always had the advantage playing their rugby one division, and sometimes two, above Honiton and the fact was the last time Honiton’s name was on the cup was in 2002!
Honiton have got stronger over the years and with a good training programme during the week prior to the game there was definitely an air of confidence around the park, a mood that was buoyed by the Honiton 2nds’ victory over Sidmouth 2nds in a game played before the cup fixture. Half-time arrived with Sidmouth leading 16-6, with Honiton’s points coming from two Ben Webber penalties.
During the break, the Lacemen would have been reflecting on the fact that it was disappointing to be behind, particularly as they had more of the ball and fashioned the greater chances!
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After the break, with the slope advantage, Honiton piled on the pressure and Honiton’s set scrums often powered the visitors off the ball.
A slick passing move ended with Benny Webber crossing for the first Honiton try and he further reduced the deficit by tucking away a difficult conversion. Sidmouth replied with a fine drop goal, and, after a series of ‘pick-and-goes’, Harry Wright crossed under the posts for a converted try to nudge the Lacemen into a 20-19 advantage.
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As play swung from end to end, Sidmouth scored a converted try to take a 26-20 lead and, to all but the most faithful of Lacemen supporters, it seemed as if Sidmouth once again had their hands on the trophy.
However, the Honiton players thought otherwise and launched one final raid that saw some silky hands from Brooks put Dom Hawk through a gap and as he was hauled down just short, Ben Small was on hand to catch the pass and crash over. Webber converted and Honiton were in front with 30 seconds left on the clock.
There was still time for Sidmouth to be awarded a penalty, but the kick was not clean and the final whistle blew for Honiton to seal a 27-26 victory and begin to celebrate winning the Dave Turner Memorial Cup for the first time since 2002!
To the unbiased and on the balance of play, I feel sure they would have said it was a fair result, but nonetheless it was a close hard-fought local derby.
For the Lacemen, this was a great tonic for the start of the season and there were lots of plusses… the old guard put in the hard yards with Hannay, Rice, Wright and Pricey all carrying strongly.
The front row demolished all before them and the lineouts really worked well. The big plus, though, has to be the addition of Alex Brooks, the new back coach, who ran the game like a proper general, kicked well and delivered some sublime balls for runners.
Dom Hawke was named the Honiton Man of the Match and it also proved a special day for the veteran Nick Guilbert, who has played in every one of the previous 16 Dave Turner Memorial Cup ties that Sidmouth had won!
Honiton are back in action this Saturday (August 25) with a warm-up match away at Exeter Saracens.