Cockles make all-conquering visitors work hard for their latest victory
PUBLISHED: 12:22 20 November 2018
Exmouth had their season-long unbeaten home run ended as they slipped to defeat at the hands of a visiting Bournemouth side that continue to sport a 100 per cent South West Premier record, both home and away, after their 30-13 Imperial Ground success.
However, the final score does not tell the whole story for, with just 15 minutes to play, the Cockles were leading before the visitors showed another large home crowd just why they are hot favourites to win the division with a powerful finish to the contest.
Bournemouth opened the scoring with a Scott Chislett unconverted try on eight minutes.
The early exchanges were pretty even, but also it was soon clear that this would be a physical encounter, and the Cockles lost scrum-half Matt Ryan to a broken arm. Both teams had a man down during a game with big hits throughout. Following the early score, the next 15 minutes saw end-to-end action, but it was the Cockles who scored next with the visiting defence opened up by Dave Bargent, who cantered in between the posts and Tom Whelan tucked away the conversion for the Cockles to lead at 7-5. Exmouth worked hard to cement their lead, although the penalty count seemed to be against them until Whelan converted a rare penalty to the hosts and, with 26 minutes gone, the home lead was 10-5.
With time running out before the break, Bournemouth number 10, Adam Davies scored a try and a Grant Hiscox conversion sent the visitors in at half-time with a narrow 12-10 advantage.
The huge Bournemouth forward pack was more abrasive at breakdown time and this would be a challenge throughout the second half.
Tom Whelan struck another penalty on 52 minutes, swinging the lead back to the Cockles at 13-12. At this point the large local support was impressed with the quality of rugby against the clear league leaders. However, that aforementioned penalty count resurfaced and, over a 12 minute spell, Adam Davies kicked two attempts to nudge his side into an 18-13 lead.
What followed underlined just why Bournemouth are leading the way in the division this season!
The visitors simply stepped up a gear with a mix of physical intent, great off-loads and vision to create space in the corners. Tries from Dan Stuart and Grant Hiscox, one converted by Adam Davies, rounded off the scoring.
However, the Cockles gave a very good account of themselves and can be mighty pleased with their efforts that saw them play some of their best rugby so far this season. They were in contention until the final stages of the game, but came away with nothing to show for their great work.
On Saturday (November 24), the Cockles are away at Bracknell.