Okes fall short in close match

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

Following last week’s excellent performance against the Exe University students, the Okes welcomed Exmouth to a sun-drenched Oaklands.

Playing up the slope for the first period, the score board was soon in action when a scrum free kick to the Okes in mid-field saw Richard Bolt tap and go with Joey Bruce supporting.

This took the play to the visitors’ twenty-two where several phases saw the Exmouth midfield stray offside with Dan Fogerty booting the resulting penalty for an early three-point lead.More or less from the restart Bolt’s box kick was returned but efforts to return with interest saw the ball squirt loose for the visitors’ fall back to grab possession. Two passes later and the wing man was over in the corner with the conversion being pulled.

The next period saw play ebb and flow but from a Fogerty kick over the Exmouth defence, the Okes chasers were deemed offside and with
Exmouth flyhalf Meadows being successful with the resultant penalty the visitors were now into a 3 – 8 lead. With the Okes now needing a response, Bevon Armitage provided the opportunity with one of his numerous tackle turnovers. Fogerty delivered the resultant penalty to within 5 metres.

The line out maul was well on its way to the try line when in desperation it was dragged to the floor. The penalty was taken quickly by Richard Bolt and a sublime flat low pass saw wing man Ryan Lee step inside his opposite number to level the scores with Fogerty unable to add the extras.

Exmouth came back with intent and worked their way into the Okes 22. Stoic home defence kept the line unbreeched, but matters looked ominous when Pat Nash had to leave the field with a shoulder injury to be replaced by Nicky Martin.

The experienced prop’s first job was to defend a five-metre scrum where sufficient disruption to the attacking scrum allowed possession to be turned over with Bolt clearing to the 22.

Having weathered the storm, Armitage was again the architect of another turnover at the breakdown. Fogerty was again on song with the penalty kick to touch. The line out drive produced a carbon copy of the Okes’ first try with Bolt and Lee again combining to put the Okes 13 – 8 up on the stroke of half time. With the slope advantage in their favour optimism was high for the second half which saw the home side having the edge in terms of both territory and possession. As the half developed the Exmouth defence was proving to be a tough nut to crack.

The visitors eventually worked their way into the Okes 22 and, with patient endeavour, used their bulky forwards to apply sustained pressure. From a driving maul Tom McGratton was given a yellow card.

The scrum was chosen as the preferred option and from a second reset the set piece wheeled with the Exmouth No.8 claiming the score. The conversion was made to put the visitors in front. The home cause wasn’t helped when Buster Francis was yellow carded from the restart but to the Okes’ credit they exhibited admirable spirit and held out the temporary suspensions until back to full strength.

Several passages of play in the dying embers of the game, with phases well into double figures, saw the hosts throw everything towards a last gasp victory but the stubborn and efficient Exmouth defence was not to be denied and as the last of one too many offloads went to ground, the resultant turnover was cleared into touch to herald the final whistle.

Okehampton –   13

Exmouth –          15

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