Cockles are beaten on the Maidenhead artificial surface

PUBLISHED: 11:37 29 January 2019

Action from the Exmouth defeat at Maidenhead. Picture EXMOUTH RFC

Action from the Exmouth defeat at Maidenhead. Picture EXMOUTH RFC

Archant

Exmouth went down 38-14 on their visit to Maidenhead, where the home side play on an artificial surface.

However, on the long trip home, Cockles followers would have been forgiven for thinking their favorites had been masters of their own downfall given the glaring mistakes that were made, particularly in the early exchanges, that put the team on the back foot.

That said, it was hard to argue that, on the day, in Berkshire, the best team won. As early as the first minute the home centre, Niall Crossly, intercepted a poor pass on an attack ball and ran in unopposed from inside his own half, the conversion from fly-half Will Runciman made it 7-0.

Just three minutes later a near identical situation ended with the same pair of scorers and, four minutes into the match, the Cockles trailed 14-0!

The game was hotly contested in the mid-section of the first half. However, it was the hosts who remained the dominant force and tries from full-back Olly Foxley and winger Scott Prince, the first one converted by Runciman, took the score to 26-0.

The Cockles finally found their feet in the game and had the best of the last 15 minutes of the first period. Great work from fly-half George Meadows saw him cross the try line and a conversion from full-back Tom Whelan got the Cockles on the score board.

The score sparked a new tempo from the Cockles and, just before the break, following some great phases and pace on the ball, Dave Bargent crossed for a try and another Whelan kick left the half-time score at 26-14.

Having regrouped during the break, the Cockles began the second half looking to ‘chase the game’.

Unfortunately, the afternoon got darker and the only light for Cockles followers came from the floodlights! The home side scored tries through Foxley and prop Mark Darlington, with one of them converted by Runciman and, try as the Cockles did [they worked hard to vary their play, and, when they did, it made a significant difference to their attacking opportunity], they were unable to breach the home defensive ranks throughout the second period.

Maidenhead, a very well-drilled outfit, managed to slow the game down to their advantage to see out a comfortable win.

For the Cockles, Sam Richardson, prop Matt Fowler and hooker James Goss, the latter making his first XV debut, all made their presence known during what was ultimately a difficult afternoon for the travelling outfit.

There’s no fixture for the Cockles this coming Saturday and so they will next take to the pitch on Saturday, February 9, when they entertain Newton Abbot at the Imperial Ground.

● If it was a tough day for the Cockles’ senior XV then it was similar for the 2nd XV, who went down to a very strong Taunton Warriors 2nd XV in a match played at Bicton.

No joy either for the Exmouth Nomads, who were beaten 55-14 at home by Ilfracombe 2nd XV.

On the plus side, it’s a big well done to all concerned at the Cockles for fielding three senior XVs on the same matchday. Special mention must go to occasional Nomads player Harry Griffin, who, called up to the 2nd XV, put in a full 80-minute shift at hooker against a very strong front row from Taunton second string, whose 1st XV play in National League Two.

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