Honiton 30, Pirates Amateurs 34
THE Amateurs won the battle of two of the division’s unbeaten sides to climb into second place in the table after Saturday’s bonus point victory over the Lacemen.
But the visitors had to dig deep and show character and resilience in abundance against a strong Honiton side who suffered a rare defeat on home soil as the Amateurs celebrated a first ever league win at Alhallows Playing Field.
Winning the toss Honiton chose to play up the slope in the first half and with the visitors slow out of the starting blocks the home side were first to settle had plenty of ball in the opening exchanges but couldn’t break the Pirates’ defence.
And it was the visitors, having weathered the early storm, who took the lead when they worked the maul well and Danny Toolan peeled off a catch and drive from a lineout to crash over for a converted try.
Honiton used their big forward pack and quick backs to good effect and showed at times why they came into the game sporting an unbeaten record. And they fought back to score a 37th minute try in the left corner by Ben Small. Kicker Ben Webber put three easier missed penalties to the back of his mind and slotted an excellent touchline conversion to level the scores.
However, from the kick-off, the Amateurs broke down the right, and close to the line they showed good composure as Toolan went over for his second try, again converted by Rhys Brownfield for a seven-point lead at half-time.
Honiton started the second half well and two minutes of the restart Webber popped over a penalty to narrow the gap to 14-10.
With the Amateurs missing a few crucial tackles Honiton then turned the screw and Johnny House snuck through a gap to give the home side the lead for the first time at 17-14.
With Honiton seemingly in the ascendancy, the Amateurs again showed character to hit back immediately when the home side’s kick off went awry and Steve Evans’ beautifully judged kick was caught on the bounce by Josh Semmens who went over for an unconverted try.
This score was countered by a drop goal by Honiton’s Andy Canniford, but the Amateurs again came back with Brownfield slotting a simple penalty to make it 24-20.
Despite a retaken penalty from Webber reducing the deficit to a single point, Honiton’s play became increasingly error strewn, and the Amateurs sealed a bonus point with a converted try from Evans on 72 minutes.
From the kick-off Honiton penned the Amateurs in and Louis Lane crossed for a converted try which rounded off the scoring, although there was still time for the Amateurs to have what appeared a good try disallowed when Richard Humphries gathered the ball from the kick-off and having grounded the ball saw his effort ruled out for a knock-on as the ball bounced up.
The final whistle cued celebrations among the Amateurs players and supporters alike, including Keith Jenkin, younger brother of former Pirates favourite Jimmy Jenkin, who had travelled from his home in Dorset to watch the game.
This Saturday the Amateurs are at home to Liskeard-Looe (3pm).
Pirates Amateurs: S Kent, J Hoare, R Brownfield, J Semmens, J Nicholas, S Evans, T Dugdale, B Brittain, C Goldsworthy, C Stevens (c), D Law, R Humphries, R Stanley, D Toolan, K Brownfield. Reps (all used): J Hole, R Farley, L Hollis.