Derby-day delight for Withycombe RFC against Exmouth RFC Quins
By Nub News guest writer
14th Nov 2022 | Rugby
By Adam Curtis
Final score: Withycombe RFC 1st XV 15-0 Exmouth RFC Quins
Derby days always bring in the crowds, it's been a few years since our town centre opponents came to visit in the league and with a 2nd XV game against Topsham and a past players reunion all taking place ahead of kick off, there were plenty of supporters there to create the perfect atmosphere fit for such an occasion.
With both teams exchanging possession early on, it was clear that it would be a close game and that all points would be key, so when an early opportunity of a kick at goal came up, it was quickly taken. Unfortunately, the ball drifted wide, however Withy didn't have long to wait for another shot at goal, this time the kick from Tom Cooke was pinpoint accurate and Withycombe were ahead.
With the home side enjoying a lot of the territory and possession for the opening ten or fifteen minutes, it was now time for Exmouth to take the reigns as a well placed 50/22 kick put them in control of the game in the Withy 22'. Withy defence stood strong though and just when it mattered, the boys stole a Quins' attacking lineout on the 5m line to clear their lines and relieve some of the building pressure.
Now clear of their own danger zone, Withy resumed a more attacking role within the game as the players linked well to make some decent gains and maintain a large portion of time on the ball. Exmouth's defence proved to be an equal force to our own though as they too held out well.
Such was the closeness in the game, it was only on the stroke of half time when we saw the first try. A lineout 7m out from the Exmouth try line was taken well by the Withy forwards as they set up the drive. Up until this point the packs had been equally measured, but with a well worked shove, the ball was marched towards the line, allowing for Dave Richards to score in the far corner of the field to put Withycombe 8-0 ahead at half time.
The second half followed on in much the similar fashion with some great rugby being played, but slowly, Withy, despite now playing uphill, started to gain the momentum. This was aided when Exmouth prop, Andy Lendon was sin-binned for a high tackle. With the ball now back in play inside the Exmouth 22' and in front of the brimming Clubhouse Corner supporters, pressure was building at an increasing rate. A flurry of activity on the try line meant that Withy were causing all sorts of problems for the Quins defence and eventually, with the number of infringements building against them, the referee headed towards the posts to award Withies the penalty try.
Withycombe were now building a good lead and Exmouth needed to do something to get back into the game; and with a couple of breaks through the middle, they enjoyed a bit of time in the Withy half. Like their time there in the first half though, they were unable to convert their pressure to points and eventually gave away the turnover; the resulting scrum led to a break by Joe Blyth to bring the ball back into the visitor's half. With the emotions building in the game, possession was important, and Withy did well to put some good phases of play together to keep Exmouth on their toes. Mike Richards very nearly managed to get his name on the scoreboard as he made a dash for the line, however a last ditch tap tackle was just enough to halt the run and deny the try. Exmouth were getting flustered though and were beginning to cough up several penalties, picking up their second yellow card of the game when Hooker Charlie Gibbings disrupted the try-bound maul by coming in at the side.
Although being a man down, the final ten minutes went the way of Exmouth as they broke away from their 22' and with a chip kick made some good territorial gains. Withy were keen on coming away with their second clean sheet in as many weeks though and maintained an impenetrable defensive line to see out the game and claim the all important win on derby day. The final score, Withycombe 15, Exmouth Quins 0.
For now, at least, rugby in Exmouth shall be green and black!
The boys now get to look forward to a well-earned week off and will return in a fortnight when they travel down to Cross-in-Hand to face Ivybridge IIs.