Honiton earn much-needed win at home to Cullompton
PUBLISHED: 14:12 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:12 25 February 2020
Tension was audible on Saturday as Honiton hosted local rivals Cullompton for a crunch rearranged game. Both sides sat one point apart in 12th and 13th spot in the 14 team league so there was a lot at stake. The rain had somehow held off for a few hours but obviously conditions were sticky and there was a strong wind blowing up the park to make it tricky all round. Honiton lost badly when playing away to them so it was a tough ask.
Honiton lost the toss and started by kicking off down the slope, Cullompton secured the high ball and cleared up field using the wind to their advantage.
After early skirmishes Cullompton lost their hooker to a shoulder injury and this disrupted their set piece. Both sides were playing some good rugby with strong defence being shown by both sides. Good news for Honiton was the early scrum battle saw them seem to have the edge and Goulden, Olive and Watts looked good against some fairly hefty units.
Cully drew first blood as the Ton conceded a penalty for hands in the ruck, the kick was slotted over from in front of the posts to give the away team a 0-3 lead.
Honiton pressed for a response and won a penalty in the corner, unfortunately the throw in was not straight and Cullompton secured the scrum and cleared. Their relief was however, short lived and after several phases Josh Rice powered through a gap to score in clubhouse corner after some good work from Ben Small. The conversion was well struck but was held up in the wind and Honiton remained only two points to the better at 5-3 after 25 minutes.
Honiton were recycling the ball well and secured two successive penalties. Alex Brooks kicked in to the corner, the line out was won but again the ball was lost as the ensuing maul was held up and the chance went begging.
It's fair to say Honiton were dominant in possession and territory towards the end of the half and on one attack Sam Heathcote had a tough ask to score but he finished well in clubhouse corner, after multiple phases from dominant drives. The strong wind meant the Cave's conversion was unsuccessful but it was now 3-10 as the half drew to a close.
Honiton started the second half in the manner in which they finished the first and with a dominant scrum they put the ball deep in to the Cullompton half. Ben Small won a penalty at the breakdown and Alex Brooks kicked to the corner. They won the line out but unfortunately there was a turn over and another scoring chance was lost.
Although Honiton clearly had the upper hand they couldn't advance the scoreboard and were just limiting the visitors to very little possession and any drives by their key ball carriers, were nullified well by the Honiton defence and strong tackles.
Unfortunately against the run of play Cullompton got back in to the game when their number 7 charged down a box kick clearance and he followed it up by gathering and cantering to the line next to the posts. The easy conversion surprisingly hit the post and Honiton had played their "get out of jail" card and were still ahead by a narrow two points at 10-8 after 70 minutes of the 80 had been played.
The last part of the half saw several scrums on or about the halfway line and tension was mounting. Finally Honiton won one and then the ball was moved left through the back line. The ball was recycled well and was fed left again for Jake Smith to squeeze in in the top corner and that was the killer blow, a good conversion attempt just sailed wide but it was now 15-8. There was still a tense few minutes for The Ton faithful to injure but the whistle came and Honiton had achieved a much needed and deserved victory.
This was another good improved showing form the 18 squad and there were some good performances all round but Josh Rice was picked out for the Man of the match award mainly for his defensive shift. It what was a big boost for the club and this result puts them up to 10th but make no mistake there is still a long way to go to ensure survival in a tough old league.
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