Lacemen edged out in close encouter with Penryn
PUBLISHED: 11:32 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:32 06 February 2018
Honiton went down 31-16 in their home meeting with Penryn, a result that saw the Cornish side complete the double over the Lacemen this season and it is they that now sit top of the Tribute Cornwall and Devon table, writes Jerry Rice.
The first meeting back in November had seen the Lacemen narrowly beaten in a close contest played in atrocious hurricane-like weather conditions and so revenge was on the minds of the home players.
It must be said that at this time of year the difficult weather makes for hard playing conditions, and throw in the injuries that most sides get in this part of the season, this is where strength in depth of squads really tells.
For Honiton, the absence of the player-coach Nathan Hannay and robust hooker Robert Price was a blow, but given there was a large crowd watching, Honiton took to the field in confident mood.
Playing with the slope advantage, Honiton started brightly and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first 15 minutes and they should have scored early on from a well-executed catch-and-drive. However, following a maul that carried the ball over the line, the ‘carrier’ dropped the ball and a certain ‘score’ was lost!
Despite this mishap, Honiton were soon on the attack again and quick ball released Kyle Blackmore, who crashed over out wide for an unconverted try. Penryn then got themselves into the game and with Honiton being caught defending way too narrowly, the Penryn number 10 placed a neat cross-field kick that was well received by their wide man and he went in unopposed for a converted try.
Honiton settled and got back into the game and, in similar circumstances to their first score, crossed for a well-worked try and this time the conversion from Wez Keywood was clean.
Unfortunately, Honiton switched off from the restart and a knock-on from the kick was quickly capitalised on and the visitors rumbled over from short range for their second converted try.
The Lacemen hit back and, with a minute of first half remaining, were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, but instead of taking the points they chose to go for catch-and-drive to get a try. Unfortunately, the lineout was parried and the half finished with the visitors 14-10 up and the Lacemen ruing first-half mistakes!
With the Lacemen playing up the slope you would have expected the Cornish side to dominate proceedings in the second half, but Honiton enjoyed a good share of possession throughout. Unfortunately, disaster struck on the 15 minute mark when, from a dropped ball in midfield, the visitors scored another crucial try which was also expertly converted and this meant Honiton then had it all to do.
They pressed and were rewarded with a penalty, which Ollie Cave, back in action after a two week lay-off, slotted to get Honiton back into the game. With 10 minutes left, he kicked another penalty to take the Lacemen to within five points, just 21-16 down.
It set up a frantic last 10 minutes during which Honiton pressed and the visitors defended, and, with time running out, the visitors intelligently ran the clock down with ‘pick-and-goes’ and they ended up winning a contest that, to a neutral observer, could have gone ‘either way’.
Post-match reflections were that this had been a closely fought contest with both sides contributing plenty to an entertaining game played out in tricky underfoot conditions.
Honiton, to a man, played well, but the sidelined key men were missed. Three big mistakes cost Honiton dear and, against a side who countered well, they were all decisive factors in the end result.
The visitors’ backs looked dangerous throughout and Honiton were guilty of defending too narrowly, especially on one of the scores.
The exchange referee from London said the penalty count was 12-1 in Honiton’s favour, which was a positive to take from the game, but in general there were no complaints about the result as it was a close-run thing all round. Josh Rice and Harry Wright were mentioned in despatches for their ‘week in, week out’ hard work, but there was a unanimous decision to give the Man of the Match award to Ben Logan, who coped well with his new hooking duties and he was also very prominent around the park.
Honiton have no game this coming Saturday (February 10) and return to action on the third Saturday of the month when they face a trip to Pirates.