Exeter College 24 Truro College 21

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Alfie Martin at Sandy Park

The National College’s AASE league set off with a bang on Tuesday evening; two rugby powerhouses, Exeter College and Truro College, battled it out on the grounds of Sandy Park in a display of energy and dexterity that set the standard for top-level college rugby.

Tries from the likes of Josh Davies, Arthur Relton and Aaron Simmonds revealed the attacking danger that the two teams will face in the coming months, as a high-scoring game finished with Exeter College going home with a 34-21 lead.

On the same grass that the Exeter Chiefs dominated the Tigers on last Saturday, the two freshly kitted-out Academy-feeding colleges played to a loud and proud audience of friends and family on the West Grandstand.

The sounding of referee Kevin Williams’ whistle set the game underway at Sandy Park, with the Truro College 1st XV posing an immediate threat against their opponents with a break from quick-footed Arthur Relton. Heavy collisions ensued throughout the introductory 20, with both teams eyeing up any opportunities that came knocking.

The opening score came from the hands of Exeter man Josh Davies, who dotted down following a driving maul from the forwards. Fly-half Lidstone added the extras to give the Devonians an early lead.

With nerves and over-eagerness being the 16th man for both teams in the early stages of this encounter, a string of handling errors resulted, handing over possession of the ball seemingly by the minute.

It was Exeter who broke the deadlock, a penalty kick into the corner setting the stage for Davies to cross for his second score of the evening. Lidstone’s boot saw the ball slip just left of the posts to deny them the additional two points.

Questions were certainly asked by both sides throughout the remainder of the opening half. A series of darting runs followed by an unsuccessful Crossfield kick kept Exeter on their toes and continued to give momentum to their increasingly-determined Cornish visitors.

Truro’s hard work paid off, with a pin-point punt into the five-metre channel setting the platform for a dominant Truro maul. Second-year student Mackenzie Oliver powered over the line to secure his side’s first mark on the scoreboard.

Fly-half Aaron Simmonds, who provided the match-winning points for England Counties U18s against their Irish counterparts back in April, completed the score with an extra two.


Lidstone got the game back underway under the direction of referee Kevin Williams. Truro’s half-time huddle seemed to flick a switch in their potency, with the likes of Shae Cornish and replacement Sam Gapp making significant dents in the Exeter defensive line.

A missed shot on goal from Lidstone kept the lead well within reach for the newly-kitted out Cornish side. This slipped from their grasp, however, as a thundering driving maul opened the gap for Chiefs Academy hooker Harvey Dunn, who dived over the whitewash to secure the points. Lidstone’s boot added the extras, giving the Devon side a 12-point lead.

Momentum seemed to lay on Exeter’s feet, seeing a further three points etched onto the scoreboard following a penalty offence from the Cornish pack at the breakdown.

Reinforcements from the bench saw Javier Gomez released into action at Number 8 in place of new-comer Cameron Bishop, who was met with applause from the small crowd on the West Grandstand.

Within a matter of minutes Truro were back on the scoreboard, a combination of power and skill bringing the men in green to the home sides 22. It was fullback Arthur Relton who exploited replacement scrum-half James Murray’s perfectly-timed offload with a defence-splitting run to dive in the far right-hand corner. Simmonds’ trusted boot added the accompanying 2 points to bring the game within reaching-distance.

It seemed that whenever Truro came close to striking, Exeter would hit back with force to deny their hopes of gaining the lead. Replacement prop Harry Wilkinson bundled over the line, much to the excitement of his team mates. Lidstone’s ball struck the left upright, leaving the lead at 13 points.

Yet another nail was struck after an interception gave Davies a bountiful amount of open field, in which Truro’s defence could not cover in time. The winger crossed for his hat-trick to extend Exeter’s lead into the 30s.

This time Lidstone’s boot didn’t fail, create a 20-point gap between the two teams’ scores.

In the dying embers of this scintillating contest, Truro’s flare was proven to still be alive, with Simmonds scooping up his own chip-and-chase to dot down just left of the uprights. His conversion sent Truro into the 20s, a consolation for their perpetual efforts.

It was too little too late, however, as Exeter College left the encounter the better, boasting a 13-point lead over their Cornish counterparts. Talent and flare on display from both sides is proof enough that the Exeter Chiefs Academy can expect a bright future if this is the standard of rugby being played in their midst’s.

Truro College face-off against Beechen Cliff School at home on Wednesday 12th September, while Exeter College hit the road to battle it out against The Henley College.

Truro College: A Relton (S Gapp), S Cornish, T Barnes, I Welch, K Atkinson, A Simmonds, A Stacey (J Murray), C Goldsmith, M Oliver, C Leigh, M Obsborne (T Spiers), J Greaves, S Butterworth (H Hocking), T Dixon, C Bishop (J Gomez) Replacements: E Pearce Cowley, H Hocking, P Tustin, J Gomez, E Williams, J Murray, T Spiers, S Gapp

Tries: Oliver, Relton, Simmonds Conversions: Simmonds (3)

Exeter College: F Dart (Elsworth), B Fenton, P Arasanz, A Hill, J Davies, H Lidstone, D Gosling (T Cairns) , D Welch (H Wilkinson), H Dunn, C King(W Goffey), J Broadhurst, A Cruze, L Bealsford, E Maltby, J Bond. Replacements: W Goffey, H Wilkinson, B Sloeman, S Leworthy, J Elsworth, T Cairns, J Carden, N Crouch

Tries: Davies (3), Dunn, Wilkinson. Conversions: Lidstone (3) Penalty: Lidstone

Referee: Kevin Williams

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