Honiton make amends for earlier-season defeat with impressive win at home to Bideford
PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 05 February 2020
Saturday saw Honiton at Allhallows again, welcoming North Devon visitors Bideford, writes Justin Nuttall.
Honiton's trip up there early in the season was a bit of disaster as the Ton were dispatched with ease. Everyone watching was aware of this as they took to the field this time but there was an air of quite optimism.
Despite recent results there was good crowd watching and this attendance was obviously bolstered by a well-attended lunch for one of the clubs key sponsors in Paul Coates and Ultima8 construction and their support was greatly appreciated.
Honiton got proceeding started by kicking off down the slope and pressured well and they won the kick-off with an aggressive follow up and this early pressure paid off, with a good move down the left that released James Coutts Tucker and after a good solo run he showed great strength to score under the posts. Ollie Cave added the extras.
More was to follow as a wayward pass by the Bideford nine was picked up by Jake Smith on the 10 metre line and he showed a clean pair of heels to beat the cover defence to the line out wide on the left and with only 10 minutes on the clock Honiton possibly surprised themselves by being 12 points to the good.
Clearly shell shocked, Bideford rallied and when Honiton conceded a penalty they kicked deep in to the Honiton twenty two and then proceeded to pressure the Honiton line and this sustained attack was only thwarted by some stout defence. The attack was clear and despite being 12 points ahead it was clear Honiton would have to work hard to keep the opposition at bay.
Having repelled that attack with a good clearance it wasn't long before and Bideford were pressing again. The Ton defence held firm and Honiton cleared thier lines again but Bideford were now enjoying the majority of possession and territory but the key factor was they were unable to convert the pressure into points.
Despite putting in a big defensive effort Honiton did have some promising attacks but mistakes were made and some promising attacks were halted when getting into the opposition's twenty two.
Despite this stale mate Honiton finished the half as they started. Key performer Will Goulden latched on to an over thrown lineout ball and had 15 meters to run to the line, there was a defender in his way but there was going to be no stopping him and he took route one and basically ran over the hapless defender to score an impressive and aggressive try and this raised the biggest cheer of the afternoon. The conversion attempt went just wide and at halftime the score was 17-0 to the home side and it was they who taken their chances.
Honiton started the uphill campaign well and from the kick off Alex Brooks cleared upfield and Bideford saw a poor kick fall in to the hands of Jake Smith. He welcomed the opportunity and,beat the cover defence impressively, to score his brace score and Honiton were now looking good at 22 points up and a try bonus point in the bag.
Honiton continued to look positive but Bideford upped the ante and they got their first score when their winger squeezed by in the left corner, the conversion was missed.
Bideford were starting to look ominous with their attacks and soon after they got their second try of the game, again wide on the left when their outside half powered over. The conversion was successful this time and at 22-12 Honiton were starting to look over their shoulder and the crowd were feeling a little uneasy as the North Devon side were enjoying more possession and were playing with confidence and they were offloading out of the tackle well.
Honiton stopped an attack and Alex Brooks cleared from hand with an impressive long kick. Josh Rice won the line out and the ball was moved through the backs well to see Sam Heathcote score a great team try in the top corner. Ollie Cave hit the conversion for a 29-12 lead and to try and put a nail in the coffin he elect to go for goal soon after and he knocked over a long range penalty from the half way line to increase the lead to 32-12.
In a to and fro half Bideford scored the next try when their right winger scored wide right. The conversion went wide and the score was 32-17 with just over ten minutes remaining of the half.
Honiton managed to see out the last ten minutes well and could have extended their lead but for the touch line and a couple of spilled passes.
This was a good game and a tremendous performance for the Ton and it's a first against them on home soil and with the seconds winning as well it was a welcome boost for the club who have been in the doldrums of late. The opposition were no mugs but as is often the way with rugby, the team that wins is often the one who wants it the most. Jake Smith was awarded the man of the match award but it was a great team effort and the reward was to take them up three places in the league but with points very close at the bottom it's clear they are still in mire but importantly hope is there with this impressive win.