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GALLERY: Saltash Essayons pay for slow start against Exeter Ravens

SALTASH Essayons paid for a slow start as they suffered their first defeat of the season against a strong Exeter Ravens side at Moorlands Lane on Saturday in rugby league’s South West Division.

Saltash, who had opened their 2022 campaign with a victory over Teignbridge Trojans, were beat 56-32 by Exeter.

The hosts had found themselves 26-0 down to the Ravens after just 20 minutes but then made a fight of it and scored six tries – four in the second half.

The Ravens are the feeder club for Southern Conference outfit Devon Sharks, who did not have a match at the weekend, and their strength showed in the opening quarter.

Playing up the hill first half, Saltash trailed 32-10 at the break, with Kieran Hurrell and Ryan Cruickshanks scoring tries for the hosts in the opening 40 minutes and Cruickshanks also adding a conversion.

The Ravens increased their lead to 44-10 in the first minute of the second half with a length-of-the-field effort, but then Saltash dominated for the next 30 minutes.

The powerful Billy Garratt held off two players to score the Essayons third try in the 50th minute, which was quickly followed by one from Ryan Wilson on the right.

Exeter were getting frustrated and it got better for Saltash when Axel Hicks scored after a great up-and-under by Cruickshanks into the in-goal area to make it 44-26.

But in the final 10 minutes, Exeter managed to dent Saltash’s momentum with two quick tries.

However, the final word did go to Saltash with Hurrell bagging his second try of the game late on.

The Essayons continue their season next weekend when they make the tough trip to north Devon to play Tarka Storm.

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