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Eagles overcome rain and wind to swat away Hornets
Newquay Hornets 3 Falmouth Eagles 24
In the corresponding fixture earlier this season at the Recreation Ground, Falmouth Eagles just scraped past a stubborn Hornets side with a last gasp converted try by Tom Spiller.
And so the Eagles turned up in Newquay knowing a tough battle awaited them against the Newquay outfit, who were yet to play a game in 2014, and who were desperate to get some points on the board to move themselves up the league.
So the Eagles will be mightily pleased to come away with a strong 24-3 win and a bonus point after overcoming not just their opponents, but the atrocious conditions at Newquay Sports centre.
The first half began with the Eagles kicking into a driving wind, which had a dramatic effect on the way the game was played.
In the opening 40 minutes poor discipline from both sides led to the referee constantly blowing his whistle and awarding scrum after scrum.
Many of the lineouts also ended in scrums as the wind made throwing straight almost impossible.
It was most apparent when the Eagles won themselves a penalty ten minutes in.
Ten metres from the try line and 5 metres from touch, Irons was looking to kick to the corner to start a possible catch and drive move. But what should have been a straight forward punt caught the wind, swung right instead, and ended up swirling around before landing behind the Newquay try line, allowing the Hornets to kick up field and deny Falmouth their first opportunity to put some points on the board.
Falmouth, however, sustained the pressure long enough to make inroads on the home defence. Their lineout remained strong, stealing possession from Newquay before good forward pressure pushed them slowly up the pitch.
Quick hands saw the Eagles backs released but despite going over the line they were unable to ground the ball, and play was moved back for a five metre scrum.
As the scrum was set Newquay dug deep and pushed hard, not letting the Eagles pack dominate and so force them over the line.
However good vision and positioning by Josh Symons meant that scrum half Richard Bray had a simple pass out from the scrum to Symons who made the space quickly and dived over for the Eagles’ first points of the game.
A good Newquay kick from the restart put Falmouth under pressure as they conceded a lineout in their own 22. The danger looked to have been averted as they stole the lineout. But the Eagles gave away another penalty in front of their posts which was easily slotted over by Newquay’s James Macfarlane.
The rest of the first half petered out in the middle of the field, with lots of scrums taking place and the Eagles pinning the Hornets in their half with continued pressure.
But the Hornets refused to budge and Falmouth’s lead at the break remained 3-5.
With the Eagles kicking with the wind during the second half against what had already proved to be a slightly rusty Hornets team, Eagles supporters were hoping for a stronger more dominant performance in the second half, but it didn't start like that.
For the first ten minutes of the second half Newquay slowly battered the Eagles down the field, forcing them to concede five penalties in a row, pushing them further and further back into their own 22.
But the Hornets could not capitalize on this sustained pressure and conceded their own penalty which Falmouth gratefully kicked upfield.
Suddenly Newquay found themselves under pressure, and more quick thinking by Richard Bray which brought them their second try of the afternoon.
Winning a penalty seven metres out, Bray took the penalty quickly which caught the Hornets defenders unaware, allowing him to gain ground before he was tackled. The ball then went back to Simon Bailey, who powered through to score and put the Eagles into a 10-3 lead.
Falmouth continued to dominate, and five minutes later the Eagles won themselves a lineout ten metres from the line.
A good take by Tom David brought the ball down, and a strong drive from the Eagles was no match for the Newquay defence as Simon Bailey grounded the ball for his second and the Eagles’ third try of the afternoon with 20 minutes still to play, the Eagles lead grew to 17-3.
The Hornets tried to get some points on the board, and the constant pressure and the continued ill discipline from both sides throughout the game led to the referee sending Falmouth's hooker AJ Geach to the sin bin for not releasing in the tackle.
The first booking for the Eagles this season was perhaps slightly unfair on Geach as the referee decided to make him an example.
Defending with 14 men the Falmouth line and reshuffled pack defended well, slowly moving the Hornets away from their line and up the pitch until the Eagles were back in the Hornets 22 after a good break.
A line out from Hornets went long and a knock on won the Eagles a scrum 10 metres out.
The scrum was then bolstered by the return of Geach as the Eagles looked to push for one more try, and push they did.
The ball finally came out to Justyn Irons, who broke through three tackles to ground the ball, seal the win and earn Falmouth a bonus point.
His conversion was the last kick of the game as the Eagles finished deserved victors.
Although it wasn’t easy, a win is a win, and away from home it is even more welcome.
The Eagles dug deep, and credit must go to the forwards who battled away in the scrum - especially prop Matt Kevern who had a superb game, controlling the ball and making good breaks in play.
The Eagles are away to Withycombe in a rearranged fixture this weekend as fourth takes on fifth.
And with one point separating the two sides there will be plenty to play for.
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