EXMOUTH 8 CANTERBURY 22
A superb defensive effort was at the core of this much needed Canterbury success which ended a five match losing run. They faced the challenge of a pitch which the pre-match Devon downpours turned into a quagmire, so to come away with three tries was also a tribute to their skill and opportunism.
After the dismal form of the previous week this was a city team transformed and their appetite never wavered in the extreme conditions. The ability to win turnovers at crucial times, disrupt line outs and make Exmouth struggle to breach the gain line brought the rewards it deserved.
It was a day when mistakes were inevitable but although Canterbury conceded early territory and fell behind to a George Meadows penalty goal after 18 minutes they built momentum in the second quarter. Tom Best claimed all the points that eventually took them into a half time lead, first a penalty goal then a try under the posts created by half back partner Dan Smart’s quick thinking. His tap and go penalty caught Exmouth off guard and Best cantered over the line before adding the conversion.
They were important points on a day when conditions underfoot got steadily worse, but Canterbury turned down the chance of another three from a kickable penalty and almost paid the price. They lost control of the ball, Exmouth kicked to within five metres of the city line and only great defensive lineout skills saved them before the break.
Having missed that opportunity Exmouth took the early second half initiative but Canterbury’s tenacious tacklers were not for breaking. They absorbed the pressure and the Smart/Best partnership handled the exit strategies with aplomb. It was one of those moments, a hanging kick out of defence by Best, that led to the city side’s decisive second try. JJ Murray chased, claimed possession with a superbly timed leap and Exmouth made a panicky handling error. Smart was on the scene to kick, chase and score, leaving Best another easy conversion and the Devon men fourteen points behind.
. Exmouth needed the try that had eluded them to stay in contention and they finally managed it though a stolen scrum ball which allowed George Billings to power over.. But they were given nothing else and while Canterbury had the final eleven minutes to negotiate they did not sit back. The excellent city forwards picked and drove effectively before their attack was given width. Wing Kieran Thompson made a break, the ball was kept alive and Murray found space and pace to race over for the third and conclusive try
Canterbury: J.Jones (repl W.Hilton), K.Braithwaite, JJ Murray,W.Farris (repl F.Morgan), K.Thompson, T.Best, D.Smart, A.Coooper (repl (C.Townley), S.Rogers, S.Kenny, (repl J.Green), R.Cadman, G.Edwards (repl L.Woodbridge), G.Micans, H.McCormick-Houston,M.Cantwell.
|8||Bury St Edmunds||30||77|
|13||London Irish Wild Geese||30||57|
|W||7 Apr||London Irish Wild Geese||43-7|
|L||17 Feb||Bury St. Edmunds||26-46|
|L||10 Feb||Taunton Titans||12-21|
|W||13 Jan||Old Redcliffians||48-29|
|L||23 Dec||Tonbridge Juddians||19-22|
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