Cullompton get back to winning ways on travels
CULLOMPTON head coach Chris Wall saw his players bounce back from three narrow defeats to win at Oldfield.
The Mid Devon outfit picked up losing bonus points from loss against North Petherton, Sidmouth and Paignton – two of them losing by a single point – but hit back in style.
In very cold and windy conditions they turned a 14-7 lead at the break into a 23-12 success thanks to three penalties in the second half from Adam Pearce, who filled in at fly-half.
Wall said: "We had the wind and the slope in the first half so we always knew it was going to be tougher in the second half.
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"They made inroads into our 22 with good kicks and good chases and we had to keep it fairly tight to control the ball.
"We got to just outside their 22 and were very patient. We won three kickable penalties and Adam Pearce kicked the lot.
"To get four points on the road and deny them a bonus point was very pleasing."
Wall made a few changes from the side beaten 20-19 by Paignton the previous weekend, some forced and some to give other players a chance.
As well as Pearce moving to fly-half, Alex Longdon made his debut on the wing and Lee Powell started in the centre, with James Shere at full-back. Second team skipper and scrum-half Greg Richards was named on the bench.
The visitors made a good start as they put pressure on Oldfield and won a scrum in the 22. They kept the pressure on and tighthead prop Marcus Roberts crossed between the posts for a try Pearce converted.
One area where the home side had the edge was in the scrum and that soon paid off. With replacement Jeremy Drake in the sin-bin for handling on the ground, Cully's seven-man pack conceded a penalty try.
However, good play by Powell, Longdon, Tom Harald and Shere saw Cully win a line-out in the 22. After two or three quick phases, scrum-half Tom Frankpitt showed good strength to score and Pearce converted for a 14-7 lead.
Oldfield got a try back early in the second half, but Cully No. 8 and skipper Sam Harris galvanised his team and led by example to deny the home side any more points.
Instead, keeping the ball tight, their patience was rewarded with three penalty chances of their own which Pearce kicked to deny Oldfield a losing bonus point.
Wall praised the impact Richards made in the second half as Frankpitt was switched to outside centre.
He said: "Greg's strength is that he organises the forwards and he did that fantastically well.
"The forwards were shivering and struggling in the conditions but he did his job well."
And Wall was pleased to come out on top despite coming off second best in the set-piece battle.
"Oldfield were a good unit and their set-piece worked well. We have done a lot of work on our line-out but it didn't function that well," he said. "They had the dominant scrum as well.
"We scored two good tries. We had asked the players to be more clinical in the attacking five-metre zone and they were.
"After playing three close games and losing them all we needed to get back to winning ways."
Cullompton are back at home this weekend when they are due to host fourth-placed Thornbury.