Wake up call for promoted Honiton RFC

Honiton RFC 10, St Austell 46

Honiton suffered a heavy defeat in their opening Western Counties game at St Austell on Saturday with a 46-10 defeat. The Cornish side ran away with the game in a 20-minute period after half time as Honiton’s set piece failed to establish itself, writes Nick Guilbert.

It was always going to be a tricky opening encounter in South Cornwall, with St Austell making it well known that they have promotion aspirations this season, having finished fourth last year.

As it was, the game started in good conditions and Honiton battled well in the opening quarter and gave as good as they got.

Cave at outside half was kicking well for the visitors and the central of defence was standing tall against the Cornish waves of attack.

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As so often happens in the opening game of the season there were handling errors on both sides, most frequently committed by the home side. This gave Honiton the chance to impose themselves on the game but the lack of genuine quality at the set piece was letting the visitors down.

As it was the Lacemen conceded a penalty midway into their own territory which St Austell kicked to the corner. Honiton were unable to repel the driving maul and St Austell crossed for an unconverted five pointer. This was followed by another St Austell try shortly afterwards as Honiton allowed the home side a couple of line breaks and they finished the move with an overlap on their left hand side, again unconverted.

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Honiton hit back with a foray into St Austell territory, and, having won a penalty, Cave scored three from the tee for the Lacemen. At 10-3 Honiton were well in the game and even when they conceded another five pointer before half time they felt it was well within them.

Unfortunately a nasty cut to the eye for Way forced him from the field, and, with Small and Lane also leaving the fray, Honiton struggled badly in the scrimmage and the line out. You can’t score if you haven’t got the ball, and it’s difficult not to leak points when you are defending all the time.

So for a torrid period Honiton were under the cosh and it showed on the score board. It was a wake up call for Honiton who now know what has to be done to win at this level.

When the visitors did have some decent ball they threatened, and with Hill, Rice and Guilbert carrying they made way into the visitors’ territory.

This was neatly rounded off down the right as Canniford found Dobson who scooted over in the right hand corner. Cave, who played well with fellow debutant Whitton at nine, converted well before St Austell had the final say before the whistle went.

There will be lots to learn for Honiton who will have to improve every week if they are to get the wins they need to establish themselves in this division.

Ramblers 34, Honiton 2nd XI 12

Honiton seconds started off the new season with a friendly game against Buckfastleigh 1st XV. The Ramblers ply their trade in Devon 2 so this was always going to be a real test for the Lacemen against an established first team, writes Tom Churchward.

With a hastily arranged side, Honiton started up the slope and found themselves with some good territory.

With both sides playing attractive rugby, it was Buckfastleigh who crossed first after some good work by their captain saw them run in under the posts for a converted try. Honiton worked their way back up the field and some ill discipline from the Ramblers saw Honiton with a kickable penalty, but Sampson just edged his attempt against the post.

The Ramblers regrouped and used the offload out of the tackle well to find space outwide and cross over for an unconverted try leaving the score at 14-0 at half time.

Playing down the slope, Honiton started brightly and some great mauling by the Honiton pack, who were controlled by the impressive Woolacott, off a lineout, saw Matt Olive cross over for his maiden try for the club.

Honiton sensed a turnaround and, knowing this, Buckfastleigh wisely elected to score three points from a penalty, leaving the game finely balanced at 17-5.

However, at this point the Ramblers’ experience of playing together showed and some impressive rugby from them saw them run in three further tries, one of which was converted, to ruin any chance of a comeback.

With the Laceman not being a team who give up, the pack knocked on the door several times before a superb angled run by Sam Collins saw him collect the ball off debutant Dean Tucker and crash under the posts for a consolation try.

With no recognised kicker on the pitch, and it being the last play of the game, skipper Churchward slotted over for two points, leaving the full time score 34-12.

Honiton won’t come up against much tougher sides than the Ramblers this year, who played good rugby throughout.

Whilst there is plenty to work on, there are also lots of positives to take into next week’s game against Tavistock, which will kick off Honiton’s merit table campaign.

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