Okehampton finish season in style

Visitors Keynsham arrived just three days after losing in their County Cup final, and they unsurprisingly failed to keep pace with a lively Okes performance that had the large President’s day crowd fully entertained throughout.

Once more the Okes won the toss and played up the slope in the first forty. After a few early nervous moments the Okes soon settled and they weren’t to be denied, and their early ascendancy was rewarded in the fifteenth minute. After several phases the ball was moved left where second rower Karl Pearce was lurking in midfield.

A powerful charge and a hand off later and it was try time as the Okes lock ploughed over wide out. Confusion abounded around the circumstances of the grounding, but Richie Friend stepped up and landed a tricky conversion from out wide to make it 7-0 to the home side.

The next ten minutes saw the visitors establish a modicum of territory and possession, but errors allowed Okes to regain momentum and in the 26th minute the hosts found themselves back on the attack deep in the Keynsham twenty two.

The visitors were struggling to bring the Okes runners to ground and found themselves powerless to prevent the second Okes score. Once more it was the Okes’ second row that did the damage, this time it was the turn of young lock Brad Curtis as he cut a lovely angle and forced his way over out on the Okes left.

Richie Friend had now truly found his range and landed another two pointer to extend the margin.

Okes were in no mood to relent and straight from the restart Tom Powell intelligently planted a sweet kick to the Keynsham twenty two. The visitor’s lineout was snaffled by the Okes and scrum half Gary Sizmur, putting in a man of the match performance on his return to the side, sniped up the blindside for a classic poacher’s score. Yet again Friend was on the money with the conversion and at three tries ahead, the Okes were dominant.

The first real incision of the second half arrived after 47 minutes. Martin Harrison-Browne broke from a midfield scrum and fed scrum half Gary Sizmur. The Okes’ number nine broke clear before sliding through a deft grubber which was perfectly located for the onrushing Ryan Lee.

The young speedster regathered and dived over to extend the Okes lead also securing the try bonus point. Almost inevitably Richie Friend converted with aplomb from the right touchline to make it 28-0 to the Okes.

Keynsham were not done yet however, and they spent the next period testing the Okes’ resolve in the home half.

Drives from penalties were held up on the Okes’ line and a five meter scrum was awarded on 57 minutes, from which bulky number eight Jack Weston powered over on the blind side to open the scoring for the visitors. The conversion was wide but at 28-5 the travelling fans at last had something to cheer about. The Okes were soon to silence the visitors support though as they began to gather possession and build up a series of attacks of their own. On 64 minutes the ball was spun left, and once again it was that man Karl Pearce who found himself in the wide channels.

He needed no encouragement to cut a line and lengthen his stride to cruise over for the Okes’ fifth try of the afternoon. Surprisingly the conversion was missed this time, but at 33-5 the Okes’ advantage was more than sufficient.

The visitors responded as the match entered the last ten minutes, again their pack testing the Okes’ close range defence. Okes were repeatedly pinged for offside and when the ball was moved wide Ryan Lee thought he was away on the intercept, only to be thwarted as the referee gave yet another offside decision, which he decided merited a penalty try for the visitors.

At 33-12, and into the dying minutes, the Okes strove for another score. It came with a minute to go when Martin Harrison-Browne broke clear.

The Okes’ number eight was tackled but managed to offload to the supporting Gary Sizmur, who raced over to bag his own personal brace and round off the scoring for the hosts. Friend converted again and there was little time for any more action.

So full time and another strong home win for the Okes in what has been a season of change and development. Thirteen wins and thirteen defeats leaves the Okes nicely placed in fifth at the end of this campaign.

OKEHAMPTON     40

KEYNSHAM            12

Ben Fox

Author: Ben Fox

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