South West premier



THE Okes came home disappointingly pointless, after an entertaining open match in which they fully played their part.

After a long trek to the Forest of Dean, Okehampton ran out on another balmy September Saturday afternoon with the wind in their favour. Unfortunately they have still not solved their slow start problem, conceding early. It indirectly resulted from yet another of Oke’s achilles heels, a failure to gather kick offs and restarts effectively. This time Okes did eventually retrieve possession after the initial kick but their clearance just invited on pressure. Drybrook are well drilled out wide however, and they made Oke’s defensive hesitancy in the wide channels pay, as their winger crossed in the right corner after barely two minutes.

To the visitors’ credit they began to get the lethargy out of their systems and spent the next ten minutes on the offensive, without creating anything clear cut. As the match reached the 15th minute mark, a neat grubber from the returning Dan Fogerty established an Oke five meter attacking scrum platform and they had enough ‘grunt’ to shove the hosts backwards allowing scrum half Richie Friend to burrow his way over just left of the posts. The Okes were now level but missed the chance to take the lead as Friend’s conversion attempt was a pretty ugly affair.

Okehampton failed to consolidate their lead, predictably failing to cope with the resultant restart. In an almost carbon copy of their first score, Drybrook retained possession and after a couple of charges up the middle, spread the ball wide to make the retreating Okes pay again with another try in the same corner. Another conversion was missed for 10-5.

Back and forth it continued as the Okes took their turn again to gain possession and territory once more. Their efforts rewarded with a penalty bang in front on 27 minutes, this time Friend was on target to reduce the deficit to two points. Okehampton were now creating chances but handling errors and penalty concessions allowed Drybrook to work their way back upfield. From an attacking lineout the hosts then extended their lead minutes before the interval. From a ruck on the Okes’ line, the home number nine sneaked over from short range. This time the conversion was landed, and when the sides turned around the hosts were holding a nine point advantage.

The second half kicked off with the Okes facing the breeze and minus both flanker Dean Abrams and hooker Reece Bartlett, both taking knocks to the head, forcing them to leave the field during the first forty. The home side began brightly and the Okes conceded yet another penalty, allowing a deep kick to touch. A few phases after the resultant lineout, the hosts crossed for their fourth try. A short pass saw the Drybrook number 12 cross under the bar for a converted score that that put the hosts 24-8 up after 45 minutes.

As the half elapsed the Oke scrum became increasingly prominent and with handling and discipline improved, the visitors came back into contention.

Firstly on 53 minutes, after being held up over the line, the home side lost one to the bin. Oke called for scrum and the home side had no answer as the visiting pack drove them backwards over their own line. The referee having no alternative but to award a penalty try. Okes were now sniffing a comeback.

Tit for tat it continued as after a spell of play in midfield, the Okes were forced to concede another penalty for 27-15 with 15 minutes remaining. Okes responded – a superb break from deep by Brandon Horn causing panic in the home ranks but ran out of support. As the match entered the last ten minutes the maroon and ambers struck again. Okes pounded the home line but could not cross it. The Okes regrouped and once more the home front row had no answer as the Okes drove over, allowing Tom McGrattan to demonstrate excellent control at the base to ground the Okes third try. Richie Friend was successful with the extras and it was game on again at 27-22.

The Okes then immediately shot themselves in the foot again at restart time, a penalty being the result for 30-22 to the hosts.

Time was running out but Okes would not admit defeat. They attacked again and came close before a turnover frustrated them whilst deep in the home 22. With a minute remaining another penalty offence left the Okes a tricky decision, risk it and go for the fourth and bonus point try, or slot the kick and take the losing bonus point. They opted for the latter and Friend stood up to the pressure to slot the kick.

There was just enough time left for one last restart. The Okes then made one final, costly error, conceding a penalty for holding on. The kick sailed over as the final whistle blew, robbing the Okes of a much deserved losing bonus point.

There were still many positives for Okehampton to take from this defeat.