What was the greatest influence on this game? Not the referee, or any individual player but Desmond, the storm which wreaked havoc across the country and made for treacherous conditions at the Recreation ground on Saturday, writes James Instance. Spectators needed to be extra careful as the buffeting wind blew hats from heads, the foam off their pints and empty glasses from tables.
Honiton sit next to bottom of the Devon and Cornwall league so on paper this looked like a routine win for the Eagles who hold an unbeaten home record including wins against the top sides in the division. However, the rugby Gods don’t allow matches to be that predictable and come the end Falmouth were delighted with their hard won victory.
The opening omens were not good, Falmouth wing Raphael Baragwaneth chased the kick off, slipped and collided with a Honiton player’s knee knocking himself unconscious, the recently returned John Tyson having to enter the playing field far earlier than expected as a replacement.
The gale force wind made passing and kicking a lottery, good kicks went straight to touch, decent passes blew behind runners, Falmouth’s Justin Irons and David Jones broke clear but their offloads were whisked out of reach of the support runners. Falmouth were awarded a penalty on the 22 in front of the posts, usually a formality for Irons but it was blown wide.
The Eagles took the lead after 25 minutes when another penalty resulting from a strong run from Jon Baglow was converted, but the rest of the half featured few genuine chances for either side, with Honiton’s sole opportunity at the end of the period, an attempted 5 metre scrum pushover which Falmouth’s pack withheld.
Five minutes into the second half Falmouth’s player of the season so far, Tom Spiller, jinked past several players and offloaded to Irons looking to press forward but Honiton’s defenders were called offside and Irons put over the resulting penalty for a 6 – 0 lead.
This was followed by the move of the match, the Eagles at last finding fluidity, the ball was moved across the pitch and back through ten pairs of hands with Spiller getting the touchdown in the right hand corner, Irons missed the extras but the result looked secure.
Honiton however, began a comeback, using the wind to gain territory then launching their forwards from rucks and mauls, Falmouth had to defend stoutly, a penalty chance came and went but Honiton kept attacking.
It was from a Falmouth mistake that Honiton scored, Tom Edmonds made a line break but lacking support was robbed of possession, Honiton quickly spread the ball to dangerous wing Will Tyers who outpaced the Falmouth defence to score under the posts, Andy Canniford converting, the score 11 – 7.
The match was unexpectedly in the balance and for the 10 minutes both teams hunted victory, the closest opportunities being a missed Irons penalty and a tap penalty resulting in a Falmouth knock on 2 metres from the line. With light fading and Desmond still dominating, the referee called time with Falmouth retaining their unbeaten home record.
Next week the Eagles travel to Hayle, in what has become, in recent seasons, a fiercely contested local derby.
Falmouth team: Searle, Pollard, Martin, Baglow, Ward, Kindjarsky, McColl, David, Spiller, Irons, Baragwaneth, Edmonds, Jones, Lea, Symons.
Subs: Geach, Tyson, Job.
Report by James Instance, photo by Sunshine Tucker