Season 11/12 >
Following last weeks strong performance , Okehampton travelled to Torquay for their first away game in the very competitive Devon Cup Merit Table.
Playing with a strong wind on a firm pitch the visitors were looking to first half benefit from the advantage of the elements . From the start the hosts were under intense pressure but despite the Okes throwing everything at them the defensive line held firm . If anything the attacking play was almost to intense – a case of trying to hard with last ditch errors preventing the score board from being troubled .
Following a clearing kick and a number of well worked rucks , the visitors again approached the Torquay 22 but an attempt at a chip over the defence was miscued with the ball falling into the hands of the Torquay centre who outstripped attempts to catch him by sprinting the length of the pitch for the opening score completely against the run of play.
The Okes were soon back in attacking territory and following a ruck indiscretion , Sam Ewens slotted a penalty for the visitors first points . The fly half was again to the for a few minutes later when he slipped his defender to cross the whitewash close the posts for his team’s first try which he dually converted. After a messed up restart it wasn’t long before the Tics defence was again under pressure but a penalty allowed them to clear there lines . From the resultant line out the Okes stole possession with Chris Courtier making a clean take . A perfectly formed maul saw the ball marched relentlessly towards the Torquay line with hooker Steven Paul finishing proceedings with the score. Ewens was again on target with the conversion to make the half time score 5 – 17 to the visitors .
The second half continued in similar vain . Plenty of possession and territory for the Dartmoor lads but the hosts defence was continuing to be a stubborn and determined barrier to breach.
The line out continued to be a rich source of possession. Courtier and Folland were both in imperious form in the air with possession against the throw being regularly secured . From another fine catch and drive the Tics forwards eventually brought the maul to a halt . The ball was recycled cleanly and after some neat handling from the threes , Luke Dennis outstripped the cover to score in the corner .
Under 16’s Callum Pillivant and Billy Searle were introduced to the proceedings with both youngsters making telling contributions. Pillivant was conspicuous with an abrasive and high work rate in the loose and Searle looking assured at fly half.
It was a perfectly timed pass from Searle that allowed the influential Folland to break through the defensive line . A strong run with some clever lines saw the number 8 approach the line where he slipped a pass to Cooper who in turn delivered the scoring pass to wing James Balch that rounded off a flowing peace of rugby. Searle converted .
The last 15 minutes saw the visitors take their foot off the gas and despite some great tackling from replacement Kirby on the flank , the hosts fullback was able to dance through some indifferent defence to score a try that was well converted. A penalty to the hosts in the last minute of the game brought the score to 15 – 29 to the Okes with a bonus point secured .
Another good performance set up with a powerful display of forward dominance but the last 15 minutes should be reflected on as allowing opposition back into the game on other occasions could prove costly. Next week; Devonport Services (away)
On a drying pitch Okehampton came against a strong Sidmouth team who had previously inflicted Okey’s only defeat this season in a previous friendly. Okey opened well with the back row of Folland, Moyse and Abrams getting to the breakdown quickly and turning over ball. From one such turnover Okey created a turnover down the left flank and good passing released Cornthwaite, with covering defenders to beat a neat sidestep saw him score a well worked try. Sam Ewen added the points and immediately added a further three points from a penalty. Sidmouth were dangerous on the break but their hard running back three were marshalled well by the Okey defence with Cooper and Johns to the fore. A further penalty by Ewen increased the lead. From a lineout just inside their opponents half Folland stole the lineout and Fogerty broke with Ewen in support, a perfectly timed pass saw Ewen score under the post for an excellent try. In the second half Okey playing uphill continued their fine form and with the front row applying increasing pressure and causing problems to the Sidmouth scrum Okey dominated possession only momentarily allowing Sidmouth breathing space. Tom White crashed over from a short penalty which Ewen again converted. To their credit Sidmouth recovered to score a try and conversation during a scrappy period of play but the result was never really in doubt and Okey stormed back to create a series of pick and drives. As panic set into their opponents defence Okey launched an attack up the left and Dean Andrews up in support dived one handed to score a final try. A terrific result against strong and difficult opponents. Next week Torquay away.
Looking to remain unbeaten, Okehampton Colts welcomed Barnstable to a damp and windswept Oaklands on Sat in a merit table fixture .
The home side came out of the blocks smartly and immediately put the visitors under pressure and turning over possession . With quick ball giving the Oaks back line plenty of options only last ditch tackles and a couple of handling errors prevented a score in the first few minutes .
Barnstable were finding it difficult to clear their lines playing up the slight slope and into a strong wind. An attempted kick to touch misfired and was fielded by Craig Dennis. The winger saw the space on the left and blasted through the visitors mid-field with pace and power for the first score of the game. After the restart the Okes wasted little time in moving back into the visitors half. The back row of Folland , Cooper and Moyes were causing problems for the Barum half backs forcing turnover and mistakes that allowed the Okehampton back line to remain on the front foot and after a couple of phases had been worked , outside centre Luke Dennis exploited the gap and cantered in for the Okes second try . Brother Craig maintained the family scoring monopoly with a well struck conversion for the extras.
The remainder of the half saw Barnstable start to come to life with some back line changes of personnel paying dividends. Some indiscipline from the Okes saw the visitors command some territory in the host’s half for the first time in the game but dogged defence especially from a series of line outs 5 metres out repelled all attempts to score with the half finishing 12 – 0 to the Okes.
With wind and slope behind them , Barum started the second period brightly and soon had the Okes under pressure . A lack of concentration in defence and an over optimistic attempt at running the ball out from deep defensive positions allowed the visitors the opportunity they were looking for with the strong running centre capitalising on the defensive errors to score under the posts . The easy conversion was landed to bring the score back to 12 – 7 with all to play for. The remainder of the half was largely an even affair although lack of front row cover meant that Barnstable called uncontested scrums which always takes a bit of shine off a game.
The visitors continued to pressurise the defensive line but a couple of forward passes and handling errors let the Okes off the hook and after regaining some composure they again started to move into ascendancy . The last 10 minutes saw the hosts hammer away at the Barum line with Paddy Moyes going close being held up over the line.
Eventually the pressure told and after some excellent support play and handling lock Tom Elliot was on hand twice in the move that saw him crash over in the corner to seal the 17 – 7 win .
Barnstable are always tough and creditable opponents and with the Okes without two key players on county duty , this was a good solid performance . More of the same will be required next Saturday when Torrington will be equally determined opposition.
Congratulations to Thomas White and Chris Courtier on their county places for Devon in the win over Somerset on Saturday.
Okehampton Colts continued their league program at East Devon hosts Tiverton on a hot afternoon that saw the water bottles continuously deployed.
The Okes came out of the blocks in fine style and after 5 minutes Luke Dennis, following in the footsteps of older brother Craig who was making his debut for the 1st XV at home, cut a great line through midfield to open the scoring . A back line move straight off the training ground saw Dennis cut and paste his first effort for the second try, converted by Liam Wilkins to put the visitors 12 – 0 up in as many minutes.
In the hot conditions the visitors took the foot off the gas and allowed the spirited hosts to work their way back in to the game and following a scrum, the result of some uncharacteristic handling errors and ball spillage from the Okes, the Tiverton 8 broke on the narrow side to feed the blindside winger who scampered in for a try.
Gradually the Okehampton pack started to gain some control winning several strikes against the head at scrum time as well as Chris Courtier poaching plenty of home ball at the line-outs . Having worked their way upfield , Sam Ewens was on hand to skoot down the touchline and score in the corner which brought the score at half time to 17 -5 to the Okes.
The second half saw the visitors maintain overall control of the game although ball handling and ball retention left something to be desired at times . Senior Colts ,captain Thomas White and Chris Courtier were leading by example both making plenty of ground from hard running . Both were rewarded with tries and with Dennis repeating his exploits from the first half together with a further conversion from Wilkins , the Okes ran out winners by 34 – 5.
Baring in mind a number of absentees this was a workman like performance to maintain the team’s position at the top of the league table. Next week sees Torrington as the visitors to Oaklands who , on results so far this season, will provide tough and stern opposition.
Following last weeks pre-season close win against Torquay, Okahampton Colts travelled to South Molton for their first merit table game of the season.
The first score was the springboard for the visitors to launch a superb display of attacking rugby. With the ball moved away from the heavy South Molton pack at every opportunity the Okes back line ran some great lines executing with precision moves from the training ground. Tries from Craig and Luke Dennis , Dean Andrew, and Chris Courtier quickly followed with Craig Dennis and Dean Andrew sharing the conversions.
To their credit the South Molton lads continued to fight every inch of the way and their determined efforts were rewarded just before half time with a well stuck penalty to put their first points on the board.
The Okes were now keeping the ball alive at every opportunity . Jordan Cornthwaite , who was the provider for several tries including a superb offload for the try of the match by Henry Cooper , was eventually rewarded with a brace of tries –the result of good support and strong running.
Full credit must go to the South Molton lads who never gave up, didn’t let their heads drop and were a credit to their club.
Next week – Bideford Colts at Oaklands KO 3.00pm
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