Rebels lose out to Centurions in South West Cup Thriller.

Greenmount-Sponsored Cornish Rebels suffered their first ever defeat in the South West Cup competition as Exeter Centurions put in a clinical performance to reclaim the cup at Saltash.

In a repeat of the 2014 South West Men’s League Cup Final which ended 38-26 to the Cornish Rebels, the Exeter Centurions were out to avenge that defeat and to set down a marker for the remainder of the season when the two sides met at Saltash Rugby Club on Saturday.

The game started brightly for the Centurions and loose forward Alex Ford knocked on over the line early on. The Rebels were struggling to get out of their 20-metre line and before long Exeter Hooker Scott Diack went over the line to open the scoring. Scrum-half Alex Edwards converted, as he did all of Exeter’s tries throughout the match.

The Rebels hit back in the form of a try from second-row Ash Lawton, and showed glimpses of solid play as they did all afternoon, but a rare lack of organisation and communication among them saw the Centurions continuously exploiting defensive gaps and kept the scoreboard rolling. Rebels lost fullback Craig Sutton to a head injury in the build up to the try, and their lack of experienced cover in that position continued to cause problems all afternoon.

After enjoying some lively possession a high kick into the corner from Rebels half back Sam Carter was intercepted by Exeter stand-off Sam Conway who raced the full length of the pitch to touch down and get the Centurions’ nose out in front again.

Rob price soon added another after exposing another gap in the Rebels defensive line, and Sam Conway added a drop-goal in the dying stages of the first half. The introduction of winger Alex Ducker appeared to change things for the better as he was unlucky not to convert two clear chances into tries. He did find a touch-down in the last play of the first half to keep the Rebels within two tries of the lead at the break.

The Centurions continued to look well-organised after half time and tries from Xander Seddon and Alex Edwards started to put some daylight between the teams. The Rebels found two more tries to stay in it, one of which, from Ducker, was undoubtedly the move of the match as he received a kick from Exeter and then danced through every player on the pitch to grab his second. Then a break through the line from Rebels second row Jamie Prisk and a clever offload to Martyn Lawrance put him in to score despite a last ditch tackle from Centurions fullback Seddon.

Three more tries from the Centurions Josh Barrett, Ben Higgins and Ed Powell overshadowed Ducker’s third for his hat-trick and the game was won by an organised and disciplined Centurions outfit.

Attention now switches to ten days time, on Saturday 4th July, when the County Rugby League teams are back in action. County of Origin; Game 2 sees Cornwall take on Devon at Polson Bridge, as the Cornish need a win to keep the series alive having lost out to a two point game at Redruth in May.

Cornish Rebels Squad: Starting Line-up – Sutton; Scates-Veale; Briskham; Prisk (J); Thomas; Carter; Thirlby; Joyce; Pellow; Tompsett; Lawrance; Lawton; Ballard;

Interchanges – Ducker; Thomas; Durant (C); Durant(J); Prisk (T); Martin; Jacques

Tries: Lawton 1; Ducker 3; Lawrence 1

Conversions: Carter 2

Exeter Centurions Squad: Starting Line-Up – Seddon; Powell; Harris, Barritt; Toleman-Ewards, Conway (S); Conway (A); Diack; Logan; Lewin-Titt; Archer (Captain); Alex Ford

Interchanges – Walters; Price; Morris; Brindley; Higgins; Hart

Tries: Diack 1; Conway (S) 1; Price 1; Seddon 1; Edwards 1; Barritt 1; Higgins 1; Powell 1

Conversions: Edwards 6; Conway 2

Drop Goal: Conway (S)