RFU Senior Vase

South West Counties area final

Honiton 35, Burnham-on-Sea 22

THE mood was positive in the Stags camp going into this final with the aim to make club history and progress further in the Senior Vase, writes Lee Berry.

A strong squad travelled down to Honiton together with the ever faithful supporters in tow to unknown territory.

The Stags started by playing up the sloping pitch and it was only several minutes before Honiton took the lead by scoring the first try with a quick pick-and-go.

Burnham then began to play the quick and expansive game they are capable of and were awarded a penalty for an infringement at the breakdown.

Tim Piper slotted the ball over the posts to get the visitors on the board.

Both teams had fair possession of ball but Honiton then used the slope to their advantage with a long kick from deep.

Despite being pinned back in their own 22, Burnham forced their way back up the hill and Sam Lewis forced his way over to put his side 8-5 ahead.

Honiton responded with two quick tries to go 19-8 in front before half time and the Stags lost influential skipper Ross McKechan to a shoulder injury.

Honiton started the second half as they finished the first and a penalty extended the lead to 22-8 but Burnham responded immediately with David Harris crashing over from five metres out with Piper adding the extras.

It was then Honiton’s turn to carbon copy a period from the first half and scored another two quick tries from open play.

Now 32-15 down, the Stags responded and Piper broke the defensive line with ample support, and the ball was passed between several Stags and back to Piper who scored under the posts to claw back seven points.

With 10 minutes left to play, the Stags felt the game could be taken away from Honiton but the home team were awarded a penalty to close the game out and end Burnham’s road to Twickenham.

Burnham captain Ross McKechan said: "It was a frustrating game.

"We conceded very early but answered back quickly with a penalty and a well-worked try.

"We just weren’t clinical enough. when we had the ball, which made it difficult.

"In parts, our defence was effective and aggressive but at times, we gave them easy metres, which made it hard for us.

"They scored a couple of quick tries and from there, we were always chasing the game.

"We lost a couple of players to injury, which changed the dynamic of the game but the subs came on and did a really good job.

"To go away from home, on a pitch with such a slope and push them like we did was positive but we know we can play a lot better than we did.

"Special mentions to Ash Cutter, who carried hard all game and Luke Gowan, who continued to put his body where others won’t.

"We have to move on, dust ourselves off and get ready for the next lot of league games, which starts with Yatton this Saturday.

"They will be looking to get us back for taking them apart at their place and they have been playing well of late so it is going to be a tough test.

"Thank you to the supporters who travelled to Honiton on Saturday. As ever, they were fantastic."