Posted: 27.09.21 at 09:08 by Adam Curtis
The Withies went into Saturday’s game looking to right some wrongs from last week as they welcomed Saltash to Raleigh Park. With both sides still looking for their first win of the season, both sets of supporters could expect a great game of rugby.
The opening exchanges of the game went the way of the visiting side, with one or two early penalties allowing them to gain distance up the field and into a position for fly half Kieron Down to put Saltash ahead with a penalty kick on 7min.
The majority of the first half remained one of mixed fortunes for Withy as strong periods of attack would be combined with lapses in concentration and discipline, leading to swift changes into defence mode. With just over half an hour on the clock, the scores were levelled as an ambitious attempt at goal just inside the Saltash half was brilliantly executed by Withies’ Tom Cooke. A similar opportunity was taken by Saltash just two minutes later but that attempt sailed wide. This wouldn’t worry the Ashes as they ran with the ball from the dropout, passing ball through hand out to James Smith-Jones who crossed the try line to dot down to the left of the posts. The successful conversion from Down brought the half to an end with the score at 3-10.
The second half got under way with some good pressure from Withy, who started to use the kick-chase ball to greater effect than that in the first forty; this combined with some good ball-in-hand play started to give Withy an equal standing in the game. Despite this, it would be Saltash that would get the next two scores on the board with Down kicking two more penalties on 50 and 52 minutes to keep the scoreboard ticking along in their favour, leading to a 13 point lead at 3-16.
The next try went to the boys in green and black though as a perfectly placed chip from Cooke put the ball into open space behind the try line with Centre Will Hockin winning the footrace to pounce on the ball and score. Cooke added the additional points to close the gap.
The Withy try was almost immediately cancelled out when another chipped ball, this time from Saltash found Kieran Down who managed to skip past the Withycombe tackles to score in the corner at Brook End.
The odds became further stacked against our boys when replacement Eugene Badenhorst was sent to the bin for a high tackle. However, despite the man advantage, Saltash were unable to stop a green and black wave of attack, allowing for the outstretched arm of George Doughty to finish off an impressive set of phases with a try to put some belief in the hearts of the home side; another successful conversion from Cooke closed the gap to just 4 points with 10min to go.
The same belief was shared by the team too as their attack became stronger, leading to more free ball and with 5min to go, Withy were back to a full compliment of players and persistent infringements from Saltash lead to the visitors seeing yellow themselves, forcing them to play out the game with fourteen men.
With the advantage and a late penalty with just one minute on the clock, Withies knew that a three-point kick wouldn’t be enough, so they opted for a kick to touch. The 5m line out was successfully won and the maul set. The driving maul gained too much momentum for the Ashes as the green and black train powered over the line giving replacement prop Dave Thomson the perfect opportunity to score and steal the win at the death.
With just enough time on the clock for a restart, all that was needed was for the boys to win the restart and with the ball leaving the ruck, it was booted off the field to a roaring cheer from the players and supporters.
After the game, Withies’ Sam Williams said: “Our work on the floor and speed and accuracy into the breakdown was a world apart from last week and we managed to keep the ball for periods of time…The last few minutes were just about not running out of time and keeping composure, and whilst I feel for Saltash I'm so happy for the lads getting the win.”
The boys will use this win as fuel for the journey down to Cornwall next Saturday as they hope to get a winning streak started when they face Hayle at the Memorial Park. Kick off 3pm.
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