Lacemen battle well in defeat at champions elect Wellington

PUBLISHED: 16:51 25 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:51 25 April 2018

Honiton 2nds at home to Exeter Eng. Ref mhsp 41-16TI 9450. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to Exeter Eng. Ref mhsp 41-16TI 9450. Picture: Terry Ife

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Honiton battled well throughout their game at champions-elect Wellington, before going down 43-24, writes Jerry Rice.

The home side went into the contest brimming with confidence and expectation knowing that a victory would see them able to celebrate promotion at full-time.

Honiton, though, had reasons to be optimistic for they had been one of just two teams to beat the Somerset side this season when they won the meeting at Allhallows earlier in the campaign, albeit with the final kick of the contest!

Honiton started well, playing into a stiff wind, but a fifth minute handling error was punished clinically by the home team’s fleet-footed wide man!

Honiton re-gathered and, after a patient build up from the pack, they ground down the home side’s defence and the ball they released got to Kyle Blackmore, who crossed for Honiton’s first score.

Encounters were pretty even for the next 15 minutes, but disaster struck as Honiton were then hit with a quick-fire burst of three tries – all run in via counter-attacks – and the half-time whistle was blown to leave the Lacemen a little shell-shocked as, apart from the three try blitz, the half had been a very even contest!

After the break, and with a strong wind at their backs, Honiton dug deep and their ability to be patient with a series of pick-and-goes shone through. Skipper Will Goulden powered over from close range to begin the second half scoring.

Robert Price then did similar and, with both tries being converted by Ollie Cave, the Lacemen were suddenly right back in the contest, trailing by a single score at 24-19.

Whilst pressing again, Honiton fumbled a pass which was latched onto and, in the blink of an eye, the home team’s very effective outside centre and winger combined to bag another long-range try, albeit against the run of play!

A clearly frustrated Honiton were soon back on the front foot and after a period of pressure the ball was shipped out to Wez Keywood, who managed in the tackle to get the ball to Will Tyers who crashed over for Honiton’s bonus point score.

The conversion unfortunately hit the upright, but Honiton were again right back in it at 29-24 down. With nine minutes left on the clock, you could feel the tension and clearly the large and vociferous home support were feeling the pressure!

However, for Honiton, the closing stages just went horribly wrong and switched from a clear belief of winning a game to ultimately being on the losing side!

Wellington stayed calm and showed that they are not league leaders without good reason and again on the counter attack it was their rapid centre who streaked in for a good score and that basically put the nail in Honiton’s coffin. To rub salt into the wound, in the final moments they scored again to seal what was on paper a comfortable 43-24 victory – though in reality it was anything but!

Despite the disappointing outcome for the Lacemen, they played their part in an entertaining game that was far closer than the final score suggests.

A neutral would no doubt agree that Honiton won the up-front battle, but they were clearly second in the backs department as there seemed to be no answer to the counter attacking and finishing skills of a couple of very effect players who between them won the day for their side.

After the game the home club donated their match raffle profit of £200 to the Honiton RFC Fire Fund – a gesture that shows the true nature of what rugby is all about.

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