South Molton's dream 20 minutes is enough to beat Torrington
COURTNEY LUCAS had a dream last week in which South Molton beat Wales in a friendly match.
In reality, on Saturday, the wing scored Molton's third try as they won a far more important game with a barnstorming opening 20 minutes.
Tries by Dan Smith, Andrew Webber and Lucas helped them into a 19-0 lead at Torrington.
And despite coming under some pressure in the second half, they saw out a 22-14 victory to complete a double over their North Devon rivals in Tribute Devon One.
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If Lucas's dream suggested the big match had been on the South Molton players' minds last week, it is no surprise.
Gary Bucknell, the head coach, admitted he had been stirring their emotions.
Never mind the Six Nations, he wanted to his side to secure third place in North Devon's Five Towns.
"My goal this season was to become the third team in North Devon and we have achieved that," said Bucknell.
"I said to the lads, 'It doesn't matter what the league positions say, we can't lose and then say we're the third best team in North Devon. If we want the right to say that, we have got to get the result'. And we got the result."
The result was hardly in doubt after the opening 20 minutes of South Molton's first league visit to Donnacroft since October 2008.
The tone was set by a couple of charges from Simon Murch, the prop, and Dan Smith, the No 8, in the second minute.
A knock-on came between them and a try. A voice from the Torrington ranks admitted they "were lucky to get away with that".
Four minutes later, Molton were lucky the referee did not spot a forward pass to Luke Doyle in midfield.
He set Murch off on another run that ended when he was brought down just short of the line by Tom Gooch.
Already on the back foot, Torrington were almost on their knees when Dale Sayer, the scrum half, was sin-binned in the eighth minute for an offence on the five-metre line.
Immediately, the home pack were pushed back over their line from a scrum and Smith touched down his sixth try of the season.
Four minutes later, Murch and fellow prop Phil Holmes did decent impressions of Chris Ashton and Mike Brown as they combined on the right wing.
Holmes slipped the ball inside for Webber, who was more familiar with the environment, to score.
On 20 minutes, Smith rampaged down the left where he was joined by Lucas who added some finesse, stepping past a couple of flailing tackles for a try that would not have been out of place in his dream.
South Molton's fantasy rugby had, with a couple of conversions from Steve Ayre, taken them into a 19-0 lead before Torrington had got a foothold in the game.
But their own indiscipline and a torn shoulder ligament for Matt Monaghan, the inside centre, gave them a rude awakening as Torrington threatened a comeback.
"Matt is the brains of the situation in the back line," said Bucknell.
"It's looking like he's out for the season.
"We were our own worst enemies by giving away stupid penalties. We put ourselves under pressure.
"We have got quite a young side and they didn't handle the occasion that well."
Nick Evans, the Torrington fly half, kicked penalties on 24 and 39 minutes, and missed another in between, making it 19-6 at half time.
It was enough to rally the home side, who sent captain Adrian Avery on in the front row, having originally kept faith with the players who had beaten Plymstock Albion Oaks the previous week.
Just a minute after the break, John Ovenell and Ben Harper made good ground from a scrum before the ball came back for Ovenell, the No 8, to score his second try in as many games.
The conversion attempt by Evans fell just short and the fly half missed tricky penalties in the 52nd and 71st minutes to give a sense that Molton were being let off the hook.
"We gave away too many penalties at the breakdown," said Bucknell. "We were playing as if we were chasing the game but it wasn't ours to chase."
Evans did land one attempt between those misses but Ayre popped one over for the visitors to settle any nerves they might have been feeling.
It was a poor second half with both teams struggling to hold the ball and the footing.
With George Jones and Evans probing, Torrington posed the South Molton defence a few questions.
But they had all the answers and when Torrie ran a penalty from the last play, they finished further back than where they started.
"We have been playing some pretty good rugby of late, it was a shame we couldn't sustain it (after the first 20 minutes)," said Bucknell. "We let ourselves go off the boil and never got up to that level again."