Cooke serves up the top shift as Honiton win well at South Molton
PUBLISHED: 09:57 06 December 2018
Honiton continued their fine recent form with a richly deserved 44-1 victory on their visit to South Molton, writes Jerry Rice.
Upon arrival, the Lacemen found a pitch that, at first glance, does appear to be a little smaller than most and with a fair old amount of rain during the week and drizzle thrown in there was little doubt that it would be a case of ‘heavy going’ – with a fair mix of handling errors!
The Lacemen began well and, after a series of pick-and-goes before being ‘held up’ over the line and, from the ensuing five metre penalty, Nathan Hannay powered over and a Smith conversion gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.
The home side hit back with a penalty and that began a period of pressure from the home side, sporting a heavy pack, but the Lacemen were both resolute and patient.
From a driving maul, Harry Wright crashed over from close range and a second Smith conversion made it 14-3.
Both sides found time before the break to slot a penalty apiece with Smith tucking the Honiton effort over and, at the break, Honiton held a 17-6 advantage.
The Lacemen made a few tactical changes at the break and got off to a good start when Smith added another penalty.
That was followed by a break from player-coach Hannay which in turn, led to open side Josh Rice crossing by the posts.
South Molton looked to respond, but the Honiton defence was solid and, after weathering another storm of home pressure, a Honiton clearance found Smith in space and he made good yards before off-loading to Ollie cave to cross for the fourth, and bonus point try.
There was then a bone-shuddering tackle made by Josh Rice that made the crowd wince and the spilled ball was quickly worked up field for Will Tyers to score a classic wingers try and, late on, Wright crossed for his second try to round off the scoring.
For Honiton this was a stern test, one that they passed with flying colours. It was certainly a very mature and calm performance against a good lumpy side.
The Lacemen were efficient in attack and, on entering the oppositions twenty two, always seemed to come away with a score.
It’s fair to say in the scrums Honiton struggled against what was a very big front five, but the home side seemed to be very narrow in attack, relying on their big guys to punch holes and whilst you can see this working against most sides, especially as grounds get wetter unfortunately, this is bread and butter for Honiton, who have a very aggressive defensive line and these attacks were often nullified with the home side clearly having no plan B.
So all in all, this was a very competent team performance but as is the way, a Man of the Match is required and, on this occasion, it went to Philip Cooke for his hard work throughout.