1XV make it three wins in a row
By The Real Hummers
Exmouth (7) 14 Bracknell (19) 27
After a week off for the final round of the Six Nations the 1XV were back on the road for their final game of the season outside of the Royal County. This was only the third time the sides had met at Exmouth’s Imperial Recreation Ground since the 2014/15 season, Exmouth having spent some time in National Two while Bracknell had spent some time plying their trade in what is now London & SE Premier. In the corresponding fixture last season Exmouth fought back from a 10-15 half time deficit as the sides shared the spoils in a 36 all draw. Prior to the game Exmouth sat safely in fifth spot in the league on sixty-three points, whereas Bracknell still needed to keep amassing points to be certain of avoiding the drop.
It was one of the very few occasions this season that Dan and Jamie were able to announce an unchanged side from the week before.
On a damp Devon day Exmouth got the game underway. Bracknell were rewarded for their lively start with a try after five minutes. A smart cross field kick from Vic Hardwicke found Simon Bayliss to dot down. Vic Hardwicke’s conversion was good.
With Exmouth pressuring the Bracknell line a loose pass was intercepted by Gabe Hills, for him to race the length of the pitch to double Bracknell’s lead, with just ten minutes gone.
On the quarter of an hour Exmouth opened their account from a catch and drive off an attacking line. Exmouth now enjoyed their best period of the game spending some time encamped in the Bracknell half but could not breach the excellent Bracknell defence.
Having seen off the Exmouth pressure Bracknell responded. A break through the Exmouth line by Cam MacDonald and an offload saw Bradley Walters score for his first 1XV try with five minutes of the half remaining.
Half time: Exmouth 7 Bracknell 19
Ten minutes into the second half and Bracknell secured their bonus point. Some good hands in the back line allowed Ian Burch to find space to score.
Bracknell’s control of the ball in the second half was total, to the extent that a flock of seagulls were able to temporally set up home in the Bracknell half.
Exmouth secured a late consolation try through right wing Fin Marks, converted by full back Sam Whitehead (disturbing the sea gulls) before a Vic Hardwicke penalty brought the game to an end.
Full time: Exmouth 14 Bracknell 27 (Points: Exmouth 0 Bracknell 5)
The result sees Bracknell remain in eleventh spot but opens up a nine point lead over the relegation spots, with just three games remaining. Newton Abbot have been relegated, as the gap between them and safety is sixteen points and only fifteen points remain on offer. Next week Cleve play Drybrook which may go some way to sorting out the final relegation spot - but expect more twists than a Brexit exit!
Captain Michael Clark commented after the game “ we knew heading down to Exmouth was going to be a big challenge, our away form has not been great this year but the way we prepared this week and our 2 previous wins gave us some confidence in our chances of coming away with the 5 points we desperately needed. Dan, Jamie and Ken had put a pretty clear plan in place for when we had the ball and we manage to execute that better than we have done all year which allowed us to control the score board.
The thing I was most proud of was our effort in defence, Exmouth are a big set of boys and we knew we had to win collisions on the gain line to stop them getting momentum, there were some huge performances in that regard and we certainly won that battle!
We mustn’t get over excited as we have 3 big games to come (including Maidenhead away), but we’re definitely trending in the right direction”
Congrats to the 2XV and 3XV who both recorded wins in the BBO league, the 3XV coming back from an 18 point to win with just fourteen men. 4XV were not so lucky as they lost at home, commiserations to them.
The 1XV are back in action next Saturday (30th March) at home when they take on Ivybridge. There is a 3 course Former Players Pre-match lunch prior to kick off, so get down and meet up with old mates and before cheering on the 1XV. To book lunch or for more details please email: email@example.com or book on line at: https://www.bracknellrugbyclubshop.com/shop/tickets/pre-match-lunches/pre-match-lunch-vs-ivybridge/
A reminder that the Bracknell Beer & Cider Festive tickets are NOW on sale. To get your tickets click here
Finally a Happy Birthday to Lewis Franklin.
Photos courtesy of Jayne Whitelegg & Dr Andrea Sawton
Bracknell: 1. Elliott Bellman 2. Bradley Walters 3. Ken Dowding 4. Leo Bailey 5. Rhys Verley 6. Sam Gibbons 7. Lorenzo Palacio 8. Michael Clarke (c) 9. Mikey MacDonald 10. Victor Hardwicke 11. Ian Burch 12. Chris Laidlaw 13. Cam MacDonald 14. Simon Bayliss 15. Gabe Hills Replacements: Paul Studd, Nick Ovens, Lewis Franklin