Biggest win of the season for Exmouth Withycombe RFC
By Nub News guest writer
6th Mar 2023 | Rugby
By Adam Curtis
Final score: Withycombe 53-7 Ivybridge II
A busy Raleigh Park played host to the Withies' penultimate league game of the season against Ivybridge IIs. With the South Devon side having selection issues pre-game, arriving with just a bare 15, they knew that they would have to work hard early in the game to allow for tired bodies later on.
Withies had other ideas, however as they had the dream start to the game. Early pressure from the kick off kept the boys inside the Ivybridge half and within a minute, Tom Cooke had broken through the defence to score the opening points in Clubhouse Corner.
Keeping it in the family, it would be Max Cooke who found himself on the scoresheet just three minutes later after an overthrown defensive lineout found the loosehead prop with 5m of open space and a begging try line. The score was now 10-0 after just four minutes!
After this initial flurry of excitement, both teams settled into the game to make a more even contest.
With the slope in their favour, the visitors began to gain the upper hand and Withy had to engage their defensive mode. A couple of quick penalties against the Withies meant that Ivybridge were in a good position and, when left with the ball for a little too long inside the Withy 22', they showed what they were made of as they scored close to the posts; with the conversion hitting the mark, Withycombe's lead was reduced to just the three points.
With the confidence of the score, Ivybridge controlled large parts of the second quarter of the match; Withy defence was standing strong but in doing so, they were also conceding a number of penalties to counteract any good work they were doing in preventing a score.
Despite this, it would be Withy that would take the next points of the game after a Callum Tose break was passed out to Joe Blyth who sprinted the final few yards to the line to bring the half time score to 15-7.
With the second half getting underway, Withy now had the slope in their favour, and they were determined to use it!
Withies had the 4-try bonus point secured after 45min courtesy of Dave Richards who scored from a trademark Withy catch-and-drive. Dave almost scored again just five minutes later, but with the ball being lost forward, Ivybridge had some light relief with a scrum on the 5m line. However, with the scrum being won against the head, Joe Blyth emerged with the ball in hand to score his second try of the game.
With the visitors starting to tire up the hill and with no replacements to rely upon, Withy began to really take advantage as they dominated large parts of the play throughout the remainder of the game. Withies' sixth try of the afternoon came from debutant John Creese who broke down the right wing to score in the corner. Tom Cooke's near touchline conversion extended the lead to 36-7 as the game approached the hour mark.
The team were gelling well, and with this, continued to grow in strength. Jack Sharland was the next to make the scoresheet as he broke away from the driving maul to crash over the whitewash.
Moments later, Jake Prophett Oneill benefitted from a bouncing ball evading the hands of the Ivybridge defender. The centre collected the ball and made a march for the line in similar form to his try a fortnight ago.
With eight tries in the bag, there were a lot of tired bodies on the field, but with the scoreline so close to that half-century mark, the boys wanted more; with one final push of pressure inside the Ivybridge 22', the ball was fumbled by the defence, allowing for Luke Pattison to collect the ball and score the try. Tom Cooke's conversion bisected the posts to bring an end to the scoring and shortly after, the final whistle blew.
A top game and one that was enjoyable to watch. Full credit to Ivybridge to come along and honour the fixture and put on a good display. But huge congratulations to the Withy boys who played well as a team, linking up well to come away with a huge win and cement their place in the top half of the table for the season.
Special thanks to the Withy Under 11s who welcomed the teams to the field at the start of the game as well!
The boys will want to keep this momentum going into the final league match of the season next weekend when they head to North Devon to play Barnstaple IIs in what will be a tough final challenge…