Exmouth Withycombe RFC holds out for the win
By Nub News guest writer
3rd Apr 2023 | Rugby
Final score: Withycombe RFC 19-17 South Molton
The old cliché of 'a game of two halves' is usually used more for football, but it was also the case at Raleigh Park this weekend as the Withies hosted South Molton in the opening round of the Devon Junior Cup.
With the slope in their favour, Withy started strongly and, following a penalty kick to touch, found themselves in a favourable position inside the South Molton 22'. With the ball working through the hands, a short break by Luke Pattison found just enough space and with an outstretched arm, the try was scored. Harry Symons' conversion sailed through the posts to give the boys an early 7-0 lead after 7 minutes.
The points-per-minute tally continued to add up when Withy doubled their lead. With some considerable pressure forcing the visitors to concede a 5m scrum, this scrum trundled towards the line at pace, allowing for Captain Joe Blyth to break out the back and score. Another Symons conversion meant that Withy were 14-0 up after just 12 minutes.
The start of the second quarter saw South Molton find their feet in the game and, after three penalties in their favour, found the Withy 22'. The home defence in Clubhouse Corner was strong however as they forced the knock-on to clear their lines. Molton continued to gain confidence and showed more signs of danger, but nothing was to come of the pressure and no points were scored.
It was, in fact, Withy that earned the next points with a trademark catch-and-drive from 8/9m out. With Dave Richards dotting down, Withy had a 19-0 lead and ended a largely dominant half in a good position.
With the second half getting off to a start, it was soon obvious that the wind and slope combined proved to be a real advantage as South Molton set up camp inside the Withy half during the opening phases. The territorial advantage and pressure forced the error from Withy as a clearing kick went astray and into the hands of the awaiting South Molton player who made a dash for the line and dived over for the score.
The try spurred on the Mid-Devon visitors who wanted more. This lead to more pressure inside the home half and an increased number of penalties conceded, eventually leading to a yellow card for Dave Richards. With the man advantage, the gap was formed for South Molton to score their second try. The score now 19-12 as the hour mark approached.
After conceding the two tries in fairly quick succession, Withy had some time with the ball and some decent possession inside South Molton's half. An opportunity to extend the lead came through a tight-angled penalty kick, unfortunately the ball travelled wide.
With ten minutes remaining and unable to ignite the same spark as in the first half, Withy found themselves back inside their own half. With the territorial advantage, the pressure began to build again from South Molton and with that their third try. To the relief of the Withy camp, the conversion attempt was wide and the Withies maintained a slim 19-17 lead.
With both teams now keen on earning that win, play was largely contained to the centre of the field. Withy held on through to the final whistle to take the win. The final score: Withycombe 19, South Molton 17.
Next weekend, Withies welcome league champions Tavistock to Raleigh Park for round two of the cup. Kick-off: 2:30pm.