The counter attraction of England taking on the Springboks had its anticipated impact on the crowd at Astley Park.
With both teams in mid-table this was expected to be a tough encounter with both needing a win to avoid falling into the relegation mix. Brixham started by playing uphill.
The first scoring opportunity fell to the visitors but their third minute penalty attempt was sent wide by the strong crossfield wind. Brixham weathered the early Cleve assaults and ten minutes later created their own first chance but centre JP Simonetti was bundled into touch just 5 metres from the line. From the lineout Brixham stole the ball and while they got it over the whitewash it was held up. The ensuing scrum led to the Cleve defence penalised and Mitch Pinkus converted the penalty to put Brixham ahead.
From the restart the visitors were back on the attack. Brixham held out but when they attempted to run the ball out of defence came unstuck. A short pass was intercepted and the guests ran through for a try and the lead.
Brixham regained the lead a few minutes later when No 8 Sam Thomas broke off a scrum to power his way over the line from ten metres out. Pinkus added the conversion.
Two minutes later the second Brixham try followed. Russ Morris made a typical run in midfield, the ball went wide on the right and two pairs of hands later fell to lock Pierce Bryers who went over in the corner for a try on his Brixham debut. The conversion failed.
Cleve were not at Astley Park just to make up the numbers and the last ten minutes of the first half saw them testing the home defences. Like Brixham they had a try disallowed – held up – but made up for the disappointment with a converted try in Mudstone corner just after.
Pinkus had a shot at a long range penalty just before the break but missed and Brixham had to settle for a 15-10 lead at the interval.
The opening ten minutes of the second half featured attempts by both sides to break the opponents’ defences but to no avail and play was largely in the centre of the field. A flash of genius was required and was provided by Tom Maclean whose angled run took him through the defence and, evading his chasers, down to Mudstone corner for a try.
Two minutes later and Ed Goodman showed a similar flash when he broke clear from a lineout and raced through to score under the posts with the defence nowhere. Pinkus converted and Brixham led 27-10 with a 4-try bonus point in the bag.
The fifth try was not long in coming. Three minutes later Brixham were attacking but with seemingly nothing “on” Pinkus deftly put in a little grubber kick and Conner Bedwell won the race to score. Pinkus converted to extend the lead.
A succession of phases of attacking by Cleve now fully tested the Brixham defence and Brixham suffered with a yellow card. All the visitors’ effort went unrewarded. Pinkus’ kicking earned Brixham some respite.
With just eight minutes left to play Cleve were attacking once more. Unfortunately for them the ball went loose in a tackle on the halfway line. A fly hack sent it towards Mudstone corner and the contest for the ball was won by Simonetti who only had to roll over to touch down.
After the restart Brixham launched their first concerted attacking spell for some time – the end result being a try under the posts for Russ Morris – with most of the Cleve defence left in his wake. Pinkus converted easily.
In the five minutes remaining, plus injury time, Cleve were again on the front foot A converted try was the least they deserved for their efforts but a fourth try (and bonus point) eluded them.