Exeter Saracens 24 Falmouth Eagles 37
Falmouth Eagles came through a tough encounter with Exeter Saracens to register another gritty win in their last away game of the season, writes Paul Stephens.
The result means Phil Angove's side have registered back to back wins for only the second time since the turn of the year as they go into the final few games of what has been a gruelling season.
The Eagles decided to play into the wind in the first half, and started well, showing plenty of determination to keep ball in hand as much as possible and deny Saracens possession.
Despite not making much ground, they were going through the phases patiently and gradually working their way up field, with Simon Bailey, Matt Kevern, and Tony Whittle doing most of the carrying.
The Eagles pack asserted themselves early on, promptly shoving the Saracens off their own ball at the first scrum, and stealing the the first Exeter lineout.
It was to set the pattern for the game, with the Eagles dominating set-pieces and Saracens living off the scraps.
The Eagles' first try came after good work by the forwards, which created space for Nick Carne to speed down the short side of a ruck to score.
The conversion was missed but the Eagles returned to the attack, and from a lineout inside the opposition 22, the forwards performed their catch and drive routine for A J Geach to score his fourth try in two games.
Again no conversion, but from the restart the Eagles failed to catch the ball cleanly in the strong wind, and from the resulting scrum Saracens scored through their outside centre, Ben Cowley, who caused problems for the Eagles throughout the game.
The conversion made it 7-10 midway through the first half - scant reward for the Eagles considering it was the only time Saracens had been in their half.
From the restart the forwards again worked their way up field and forced a score. This time it was inside centre Tom Edmonds running a good angle off his fly half and catching the home defence flat footed.
Justyn Irons knocked over the conversion, and followed it up with another soon after when A J Geach went over to score a carbon copy of his first try from a catch and drive executed well by the forwards.
A score of 7-24 provided a fairer reflection of the game, but this is sport and things were about to change.
Just before half time the Eagles lost Joel Rose, who was having a storming game, with a nasty looking knee injury.
And then two Eagles defenders went for the same high ball from a speculative kick by the opposing fly half, only to get in each other's way and allow the loose ball to be scooped up by Saracens winger Hilton to score under the posts.
With the score 14-24 at the break the Eagles were perhaps a little disappointed not have pulled further away, but with the strong wind in their favour after the turnaround they went into the second half full of confidence.
But they were rattled early on when Saracens scored a try through Tom Crook, and then the Eagles' scrum half Richard Bray had to be replaced after picking up a bad knee injury.
This disrupted the Eagles, with Tom Spiller having to move to scrum half from centre.
And before they knew it Saracens had again scored out wide through Rushton, bringing the scores level 24 -24.
Suddenly Saracens began to believe they could go on and win it, despite having seen so little of the ball.
The Eagles had to change things and start using the wind - such an obvious thing, but up to that point they were playing a lot of rugby around the half way line and the Saracens were tackling well.
But the power of the Eagles pack helped put the game to bed.
After grinding their way into the opposition 22 the forwards again provided the platform for Tom Edmonds to complete his brace of tries before he too was forced off with another knee injury.
This meant more reorganising, but at least the Eagles had steadied the ship and found a way to play with the wind at their backs.
More pressure led to Justyn Irons converting two penalty kicks, and the game was won.
The final score of 24-37 did not do Falmouth justice considering the possession they had, but it's one thing having the ball, and quite another to use it effectively.
Next week the Eagles are at home to second place Tiverton - a game they can win if they get their tactics right.
Falmouth Eagles: 1 Ashley Searle, 2 A J Geach, 3 Matt Kevern, 4 James Dobson, 5 Joel Rose, 6Tony Whittle, 7 Rob Fitzpatrick, 8 Simon Bailey, 9 Richard Bray, 10 Kieron Rodda, 11 Nick Carne, 12 Tom Edmonds, 13 Tom Spiller, 14 Paul Saberton, 15 Justyn Irons, 6 Pete Collett, 17 Andrew Varker, 18 Oliver Church.