Western Counties West

KINGSBRIDGE’S sev­en-match unbeaten start to the season in the league came to an end on Saturday when they were narrowly beaten by Exeter Uni­versity in the wind and rain at High House.

This was always likely to be one of the toughest tests for the young Kingsbridge side against a University team most likely seen as favourites for the league title this season and so it turned out to be.

The hosts battled and tackled valiantly and were only thwarted by a late penalty call.

Exeter opened the scoring in the seventh minute as they crossed over for a try from a break out wide following a maul in their own 22.

The conversion was added to make the score 0-7.

On 15 minutes Kings­bridge won their own penalty line-out on the Exeter 22 and set up the rolling maul to­wards the try line.

The students tried everything to stop the charge of the home forwards but to no avail as flanker Matt Ham­ilton gained the touchdown to reduce the deficit to 5-7.

On 25 minutes the visitors failed to successfully clear the ball from a ruck in their own 22 and only managed to fumble the ball back towards their own line, where home fly-half Ben Newman was on hand to pick up the loose ball and touch down to give Kings the lead at 10-7.

The visitors were awarded a penalty shortly before the interval which they converted to take the half-time score to 10-10.

Immediately from the second half kick-off strong pressure from the Kingsbridge forwards saw the visitors fail to release the ball in the tackle and centre Ashley Treeby slotted the penalty to put the home side back in front again at 13-10.

Entering the final quarter of the match there had been no further addition to the score until a period of sustained pressure from the students saw them exploit space out wide as the Kings­bridge defence was tied in to score their second try and retake the lead at 13-15.

Kingsbridge, however, were not finished as they forced a penalty wide out on the right where Treeby gauged the strong wind perfectly to see the hosts retake the lead for a third time at 16-15.

Disappointingly the visitors had the final say as they were awarded a penalty of their own with around four minutes left and the successful kick put them 16-18 ahead – a lead they held on to through the dying minutes.

The result should take nothing away from the hosts, who gave everything to a man and should be justifiably proud of their fine all-round performance.

The Pizza Planet man-of-the-match went to Tom Meatyard.

This Saturday sees Kings­bridge travel to face Tiverton in the league. Kingsbridge Colts have no match on Saturday but travel to face Cleve (Bristol) in the third round of the National Colts Cup on Sunday.