Honiton end league term with another big home win
PUBLISHED: 20:28 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:28 16 April 2019
Honiton closed out a superb Tribute Cornwall and Devon League campaign with a 67-26 Allhallows success over Topsham, writes Jerry Rice
Once again, there was a splendid home turnout, with the crowd boosted by those attending the annual Honiton Rugby Club vice president's luncheon.
Visitors Topsham had inflicted one of what would be only four league defeats all season when they beat the Lacemen 59-3 on the opening day of the season!
Honiton kicked off down the slope and early pressure resulted in a penalty that Tom Steer drilled between the uprights.
Topsham had clearly not pitched up simply 'to make up the numbers' and hit back with a well-worked try to lead 5-3.
However, the lead did not last long for, from the restart, after a penalty was won, the ball was kicked to the corner and, from the lineout, Ross Watts crashed over from the ensuing ruck and Steer slotted the conversion for a 10-5 advantage.
A second try followed with player-coach Nathan Hannay crossing and, 15 minutes into the contest, the Lacemen led 15-5.
A dominant Honiton then scored another try with Harry Wright the scorer; the conversion attempt drifted just wide, but the score was now 20-5.
Honiton's dominance up front continued and they were stealing just as much lineout ball as with ball at scrum time. Kyle Blackmore began the move that ended with Adam Thompson scoring on the right and another clean Steer conversion saw the Lacemen into a 27-5, 30 minutes in.
There was still time for one more try before the break and it came when Alex Brooks put in a chip behind the Tops' defensive line that he chased and gathered before showing everyone a clean set of heels and he cantered home. Steer slotted another conversion and the Lacemen trooped off at the interval with a 34-5 lead.
After the break, the Tops had the benefit of the strong wind, but it was Honiton who struck first with Thompson racing home and another Steer kick made it 41-5.
Topsham were next on the score board with a converted try, but the Lacemen were soon back in the driving seat as Adam Thompson completed a hat-trick of tries.
End-to-end action followed as Topsham adopted a 'nothing to lose' approach and, 15 minutes into the second half, they scored again to make it 48-19.
A quick-fire brace from Wright saw him become the second home hat-trick try scorer and, with the clock ticking down, Louis Lane broke through a gap and, when the ball was recycled, Will Tyres took it over the line for the final try.
The final score of 67-26 indicates an easy win, but the visitors did provide some of the entertainment with a cavalier attitude of throwing the ball around.
For them moving forward, they really only need a power base up front and with that, I'm sure their lively backs could do the rest.
For Honiton, this was a good test and just what they needed to focus the minds for the big game next weekend (the cup tie in Portsmouth).
With hard grounds comes more open play. I might add, having praised the Topsham backs, that we should mention the Honiton backs, who were also very good with throwing the ball around in attack.
Was there a hint of a fitness issue one must ask, as Honiton were blowing when the open play really kicked in. Broken play means normally rock solid defensive lines are harder to install which needs some discussion this week and 'four tries against' will be a focus for the coaching staff, as that has not happened at Allhallows for some time.
All good learning though, and feet will be back on the ground I'm sure.
Expectations from the Honiton faithful are now not about 'are we going to win?', but more, 'how much will we win by?'!
Being 'super critical' of what is, frankly, a good unit, seems harsh, but the standards the players have set for themselves are higher now than ever before, but not withstanding all that, we must say what a great season it has been at Allhallows and, as one of the 'pre season' objectives was to get promoted, we can now tick that off and move on to part two of the trilogy for this season.
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