Hill goes on the offensive ahead of derby at Newton
EXMOUTH head coach Jon Hill is not pulling any of his punches ahead of the derby with Newton Abbot at Rackerhayes on Saturday (2.30pm).
The Cockles may have gone top of National Three South West following their 67-12 win over lowly Maidenhead last time out, but Hill quickly moved on from that.
Relations between the two clubs have not been great for a number of years – and took a turn for the worse last season when Exmouth player Jon Fabian was knocked out in a game between them.
Exmouth alleged that Fabian had been felled by a blow from a Newton Abbot player in an off-the-ball incident – something the referee did not see.
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The Cockles cited the player for foul play, but when they got to the hearing the complaint was thrown out.
Devon's decision still rankles with Hill and, having already lost to Newton Abbot once this season, he does not intend to let that happen again.
"After previous incidents between the clubs, it is fair to say that our players, club and management will not be lacking in motivation this weekend," said Hill.
"We have found the way in which Newton have handled certain situations in the past to be somewhat derogatory and insulting towards us as a club and towards our players. Time is certainly not a healer, and our players will never forget this.
"In fairness to Newton this season, they have certainly punched their weight, and have become more competitive and more consistent than in the past."
Newton shot up to fourth after their last-gasp 31-27 win at Brixham last Saturday and would prefer to live in the present than the past.
Roy Henderson, who took over as Newton's director of rugby during the close season, is well aware the Fabian issue still festers in the background, but has no desire to fan the flames.
"I am not going to be drawn on something which is long gone," he said. "Exmouth's complaint was heard and thrown out. I've nothing more to say about it.
"We want to concentrate on the rugby and doing the double over Exmouth – something no other team can do this season as we are past halfway and they haven't lost to anyone else.
"If you look at the Devon mini league in National Three – us, Exmouth, Barnstaple and Brixham – we are top of it having beaten all of them. That's how we want to keep it."
Newton Abbot may be unbeaten in the Devon derbies, but they left it late at Brixham.
A try five minutes from time by Brett Stroud put them ahead for the first time in the match. Other tries were scored by Dean Avery and Josh Smith, with Rob Avery-Wright doing the kicking.
In Exmouth's win over Maidenhead, Tom Kill bagged a hat-trick, Jack Downie, Dave Bargent and George Savage got a try each while the rest of the points came from Andrew Powell and Mark Wathes.
Exmouth are only top on points difference, so Hill is not getting too carried away yet.
"There are a ridiculous number of league points left to play for and a lot can happen," he said.
"What is in our favour is that most of the top teams have to come to us in the second half of the season – and so far we have not lost to any of them away from home."