Sprangle the difference as Tiverton clip Falmouth Eagles’ wings

Falmouth Packet: Falmouth Eagles captain Tony Whittle reaches over the top of a maul at Tiverton on Saturday. Picture: Tom Sandberg/CARTEL. Falmouth Eagles captain Tony Whittle reaches over the top of a maul at Tiverton on Saturday. Picture: Tom Sandberg/CARTEL.

Falmouth Eagles fell to a disappointing 21-3 defeat away to Tiverton on Saturday, but the home side were made to work hard for the win, writes Tom Sandberg.

Most pleasing from Falmouth’s point of view, is that the defence has tightened up noticeably, with some excellent tackling on show.

Tiverton were led by ex-Plymouth Albion player Wayne Sprangle, and he proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Indeed, in the end the best team on the day won - primarily due to their better control of the ball in their backs and their far superior tactical kicking, which certainly let Falmouth down this week.

With Simon Bailey missing and a slight disruption in their forwards - especially with tight head prop Toby Mears being injured during the game - the Eagles were slightly below strength.
However there were positives to take from the game for coach Phil Angove, Falmouth and their supporters.

The Falmouth defence was much stronger than it has been in previous weeks, there was no weak tackling, and for most of the second half Falmouth kept the leagues top team out with some excellent defensive play.

In driving rain the Eagles found it difficult to get out of their own half during  the first 40 minutes as Tiverton demonstrated why they are unbeaten and flying high in the Cornwall and Devon League.

The home side pinned Falmouth inside their own 22 as they went through phase after phase, until quick hands and quick passing caught the Falmouth backs flatfooted and Liam Lewis broke through the line to score under the posts. Tiverton’s fly half Callum Stone dutifully converted.

From the restart Falmouth were back under pressure as once again Tiverton forced the visitors back into their own half.

Falmouth kept trying to slow down the ball which, through the continued pressure forced on them by Tiverton, led to the Eagles conceding three penalties, all of which were converted by Stone to put Tiverton ahead by 16-0.

As a bright December sun broke through the rain clouds, Falmouth's sprits seemed to brighten and they started to apply pressure on the Tiverton defence for the first time in the game, eventually winning a penalty which Justin Irons kicked to the corner.

Falmouth tried a catch and drive from the lineout; a move which has proven successful for them so far this season, and almost did again as Tom David claimed the ball and the forwards pushed towards the line, but despite fine forward work, Mears was held up and was unable to ground the try.

The five metre scrum nearly proved successful as Sam Burke broke free, but he was also held up before he could score.

The next scrum Tiverton dug deep and claimed the ball, kicking to safety to take a 16-0 lead into the break.

Bouyed by their performance in the latter stages of the first half, the Eagles came out with the same intensity after the restrat, and at last Tiverton gave away a penalty for not releasing during a ruck,  which Irons slotted over.

Falmouth fans might have harboured slimo hopes that a fight back was on the cards, but Tiverton came back strong, and the rest of the match was played out largely in Falmouth’s half with their defence standing strong, but unable to launch any attacks of their own.

In the end the continued pressure broke them down as Sprangle bundled over from a push and drive. The conversion was missed to make it 21-3.

The remainder of the game was a stalemate with the Falmouth defence remaining solid but unable to really force the issue against a strong Tiverton side.

Like the end of the first half, the Eagles had an opportunity within the dying minutes for a catch and drive, and to put some pressure on the Tiverton try line,  but it was all in vain as the home defence stood strong. Falmouth are at home next week to Crediton as third take on fifth.

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