THE Cornish Rebels took another step closer to securing top-spot in the South West Permier League on Saturday with a close-run victory over North Devon Raiders at Barnstaple.
Both teams had to work hard in an end-to-end match which was eventually edged by the better side overall, with the Rebels winning 40-32.
A Raiders try in either corner from Mike Sumner and Nigel East both came from Rebels mistakes and sent the hosts to a 10-0 lead after just 10 minutes before the visitors could respond.
It was Shaun Buzza with the Rebel’s reply, who found the tryline on the last tackle before a break from Darren Pellow set Royce Molin up for a 60-yard dash to the whitewash to level off the tie.
Two more tries from the hosts came through Luke Knight and a second for Sumner got the Raiders' tails in the air before Sam Carter and Craig Sutton combined beautifully for the Rebels, with a chip over the top fell sweetly for Sutton to nip in and bring the Cornish back into the game.
Pellow then found Buzza with a fine inside ball which was then offloaded to debutant Kyle Barclay for his first Rebels try.
Carter found the extras both times to keep things close at 20-22 with the Rebels stand-off proving the difference with the boot.
Another kick-and-chase from the Rebels just before half time gave Ethan Pattison the sniff he needed to touch down, and Carter goaled again for a 20-28 game at the break.
The second half was hard fought, with both teams starting to feel the lack of subs taking its toll on a warm day and the emphasis changed from free flowing attack to big tackles and body-on-the-line rugby.
First blood once again went to the Raiders with a converted try by the posts from Josh Howell-Williams before Martyn Lawrance was able to respond for the Rebels after a fine break from prop Pattison.
Pete Keighley soon found himself over the line for the Raiders in response, following a dropped ball and Howell-Williams' kick was good this time.
The game did not let up, and the defence intensified with a singular try from the last 15 minutes going to Rebels player coach Jonny Platt who was able to make things nice and easy for Carter to convert his try by dabbing-down under the posts.
A closer game than usual for the Rebels but with both teams low on numbers there was some fantastic Rugby League on display as well as plenty of passion and commitment from everyone involved.
The Rebels will now look to secure top spot and a place in the South West Premier League Grand Final in a showdown with second place Plymouth Titans at the Recreation Ground, Redruth, on Saturday.
Kick off is at 2.30pm and entry is free.