South West premier



THE green clad visitors from the Forest of Dean made the brighter start, monopolising the majority of possession during the first 15 minutes as Okehampton, playing up the slope, struggled to get their hands on the ball.

Rotund but effective visiting out half Stevenson missed an early penalty chance before striking one successfully between the uprights on 11 minutes for 0-3 and giving the Squirrels the early lead their play had merited.

The Okes then began to slowly eke out significant possession and looked threatening out wide on both flanks but Drybrook’s defence snuffed out both opportunities. The hosts were now gathering momentum in attack and a driving lineout was adjudged to have been halted illegally, giving the returning Richie Friend his first shot at goal. His effort sailed over and the Okes were back on level terms. Shortly after the restart the Okes secured the first try when following a visiting scrum on halfway saw the ball shipped to midfield where Oke stand off Dan Fogerty intercepted an intended pass before feeding on-rushing centre Rhys Palmer who beat the cover to strike and give his side the lead. Friend missed the conversion, but at 8-3 ahead, up the slope, the hosts were in a strong position.

As the interval loomed Okes were again probing dangerously out wide, this time the visitors infringed at the resultant breakdown and the Okes opted to go for posts. From a difficult wide angle, Richie Friend landed the tricky kick to give the Okes a further boost as the home side went into the interval 11-3 up.

The hosts came out of their blocks at a lively pace and had soon stretched their lead. Forcing a lineout on the Drybrook 22, the Okes secured clean ball and began a powerful surging maul which sucked in defenders aplenty and headed towards the try line apace. After another coupe of thrusting forays round the fringes, prop Pat Nash finally forced his way over for the hosts’ second try; Friend added the conversion for good measure. Sloppy restarts, lost lineouts and a failure to kick the ball behind the defence saw the visitors take advantage with another Stevenson penalty on 46 minutes. This was followed by an Ollie Moore try wide left, after an astute Stevenson grubber which reduced the Oke lead to 19-11.

Disadvantaged further by the loss of Friend to the sin bin, Okes were forced to regroup. Dan Fogarty missed a penalty chance in Friend’s absence and with a quarter of an hour remaining, another chance came and went after an overthrown attacking lineout five metres from the visitors’ tryline. The Okes slowly began to use their own boot to finally pin the visitors deep into the confines of their own half. As the pressure built it forced the visitors to riskily run the ball from deep and they paid the price when the ball went loose and was gathered by fly half Fogerty who turned and handed off to winger Brandon Horn who grounded the ball to secure yet another valuable victory on home soil. The conversion was missed and soon the final whistle arrived.

Okehampton’s home run continues, with the club in a respectable sixth position in the table.