But with that indifferent spell behind them they finally cut loose.
How the city side ended up fighting for their lives on the Devon coast after building a 41 12 lead by half time only they will know, but the contrast with the first 40 minutes could not have been greater.
Exmouth had looked Omega Seamaster 8900 out of their class as the Canterbury backs cut them to pieces, but then found reserves of skill and resolve that threatened to upset the odds completely.
For a struggling home side, panic set in and they hurried their own downfall with poor decision making, frail tackling and even worse kicking. Tries were handed to Aiden Moss, Royce Cadman, following a charge down, and a Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m
second for Mackintosh after another dreadful clearance attempt landed in the arms of Harding.
Another of those careless starts by the city side, with needless penalties conceded, allowed Exmouth to take an early lead with a catch and drive try from lively hooker Tom Emery.
A GAME of 15 tries and an amazing swing in fortunes ended with Canterbury clinging on for their first away victory of the season and leaping up the National Two South table to fourth position.
Ryan's second try brought the home side's stunning revival to within one converted score of that seemingly unassailable lead, but the city team dug in.
Canterbury: Omega Seamaster 1980
Facing a stiff breeze a tight game was called for and when the city forwards got their driving maul going it was hugely effective and a clear signal. They established position for Hilton to sell a lovely dummy and score and convert his own try, but somehow the city side's tactical nous deserted them.
Beaumont, Moss, Mackintosh, Harding (Best), Asiedu, Hilton (Veale), Kay, J Green (Livesey), T Rogers, Pinnick (J Green), Corr (Hinkins), Cadman, Sherson, Cowan (S Rogers), Lennox.
With conversions from Guy Hilton and Harding the game was, to all intents, done and dusted.
Their combination made a try for Mackintosh and two minutes later, when the ball was run from deep, Martyn Beaumont was the beneficiary. The bonus point try came in the 28th minute, Kwaku Asiedu slotting into the line and using his finishing power to telling effect.
His opposite number, Tom Rogers, quickly matched that as he ran a good angle to leave Charlie Harding a simple conversion before Canterbury fell behind again in the 12th minute to a Matt Wathes Omega Rose Gold Constellation
The fruitful centre partnership of Harding and Ricky Mackintosh were soon brushing aside tackles, making telling offloads and piercing holes in the defence as the backs hit their stride.
With several replacements now in their ranks they persisted in a wide but unwise game and Exmouth turned it clinically to their advantage. They spotted the weaknesses, became increasingly dangerous and when Beaumont was yellow carded for obstruction made their extra man count.
Tries for wing Dan Ryan, lock Stuart Lowe and probing fly half Matt Garner, plus two conversions from Rob Avery Wright, made serious inroads into Canterbury's lead and worse was to follow when replacement prop Mark Livesey was sent off for foul play.
They won back territory and in the closing minute Tom Best brought huge relief with a successful penalty.
City side survive a white
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