THE Christmas break has come at just the right time for Okehampton captain Tom White in the wake of a 22-31 home defeat by Exmouth.

The manner of Okehampton’s latest loss – Luke Simmons missed a penalty in the dying minutes of the game – only piled more gloom on the camp.

Tom McGrattan, Saul Holliday and Adam Curtis all went off injured during the game, which added more length to the club’s casualty list.

White picked out the positives where he could, starting with the up-side of the Christmas lay-off.

‘We picked-up a lot of injuries and it is lucky that we have a break,’ said White. 

Okehampton’s previous two outings had been heavy defeats by Devonport Services (48-7) and Barnstaple (45-14). By any measure a one-point defeat was an improvement.

White admitted to mixed emotions though when he looked back at the game.

‘It was a much better performance than the last one,’ said White.

‘We were ahead for almost the whole game after scoring early and stayed there until the final five or six minutes when we let Exmouth back in.

‘The missed penalty was gutting but we should have put the game to bed way before then.’

Roger Holman, the Exmouth team manager, had some sympathy for White’s point of view, But he also praised his own side too.

‘Okehampton lost it rather than we won it, but the game needs to be put in context,’ said Holman.

‘Because of postponements and league rest days, we had not actually played for a month – and it showed in the first half.

‘To come from behind and win, especially in the awful conditions, was something to be proud of.

‘I thought Okehampton were going to steal it back at the end, but their kicker took ages lining up the ball and was told to get on with it by the referee, which might have put him off.’

Okehampton led 12-11 at half time courtesy of tries from McGrattan and Holliday plus a Simmons conversion.

Dave Bargent got over for Exmouth and there were two penalties for full-back Gareth Roebuck.

Three Simmons penalties, to in in reply by Roebuck, pushed Okey 21-14 up.

A catch-drive try from Bargent, and another Roebuck penalty, edged Exmouth into a 22-21 lead with five minutes to go.

When Exmouth were penalised after a turnover near their own 22 it looked like Simmons would kick the decider. He didn’t.

There was just enough time left for Exmouth to restart, win the ball back and boot it into touch to end the game