EXETER ATHLETIC 11 - NORTH TAWTON 20
NORTH Tawton arrived at Bravelands, the home of Exeter Athletic, on the back of three straight losses but with the day’s opposition sitting well below the Tawts in the league, confidence was high that a result was more than achievable.
This match was the first of a quick turn around, with Exeter visiting Taw Meadow on Saturday, February 1.
North Tawton got off to a good start against Exeter Athletic from the kick off, showing early intent to take the game to the home team, when they let Athletic get their hands on the ball.
It was a missed time pass, intercepted by Matt Baker, who ran from well inside his own half to score the first points of the day, kick added by Gary Sizmur to make it 0-7 in less than five minutes.
North Tawton suffered an injury blow soon after scoring, Rob North having to be helped off the field with a groin strain.
While North Tawton regrouped and adjusted, Exeter took full advantage with some good pressure play of their own.
They went over for five points albeit with a missed kick, making it 5-7.
Both teams were trying to keep the ball alive, getting some good attacking play.
The Tawton defensive quickly upped the pressure on the Athletic forwards, which led to them making mistakes and another handling error.
A good kick saw Matt Baker on it again, some might say with a lucky bounce.
There was another long run-in and with the Sizmur boot, it was soon 5-14.
As a good reminder that the home team weren’t going to lie down, they kicked a penalty before the half-time whistle which took us to the break to make it 8-14.
North Tawton was leading but it was still all to play for.
We got going for the second 40 minutes, Tawton getting a penalty, the kick missed, and Athletic got a yellow card.
The home team’s frustration was beginning to show in the amount of penalties they were clocking up, the referee, at times, giving the appearance of barely keeping control, some what unpredictable to say the least.
It was still a tight game and you still felt that the Tawts needed to score again to keep an ever-pressing Athletic side at bay.
A converted try would be enough for them to go in front, as it proved discipline or lack of it, from the hosts was their undoing.
A penalty from the trusty boot of Gary Sizmur took us to 8-17.
However, that lead was short-lived, a penalty to Athletic taking us to 11-17.
North Tawton needed to hold their composure and shape.
The home team conceded yet another penalty and step forward Mr Sizmur to make it three points, more importantly two scores apart, 11-20.
We see the game out with the ref walking the home team up the field 20 metres for not agreeing with the way he had controlled the match.
North Tawton were just happy to play the clock down in the other half, be it scrums or lineouts.
The final score was 11-20.
Matt Baker was the Man of the Match, always willing to get his hands on the ball, always bringing plenty of commitment.
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