Exmouth Withycombe RFC sweeps aside Exeter Saracens
By Nub News guest writer
17th Apr 2023 | Rugby
Final score: Withycombe 36-5 Exeter Saracens
Withies have secured a home fixture for next weekend's cup semi final and become the only team in the two groups to win all three of their matches following a strong second half performance against Exeter Saracens.
After heavy rain meant that Exhibition Fields was left unplayable, the game was brought to Raleigh Park – giving the Withy boys an unexpected home fixture.
The home advantage may have been a factor in Withy's strong start as they enjoyed the lion's share of the possession and territory in the opening phases of the game, even when the visitors began to find their feet, they still managed to keep the play within the bottom half of the field.
Following a missed attempt at goal for an early 3-point advantage, Withies got onto the scoreboard in the eighteenth minute with a catch-and-drive from 5m out. Jack Fear emerged from across the line to give Withy a 5-0 lead.
The attacking strategy soon became a defensive one when Sarries enjoyed some time of their own with the ball and with a decent catch and drive of their own, they were denied the score thanks to the hand of a Withy player preventing the grounding. The goal-line dropout cleared the lines and Withy could get back to some attacking rugby.
This attacking rugby led to Withy's second try as Archie Symons scored from another successfully driven maul. A very forward-heavy half was brought to a close with Withies taking a 10-0 lead into the break.
Last weekend, playing the second half uphill worked in their favour, and the boys in green and black were hoping it would be more of the same this week…
This turned out to be the case early on as some good pressure in the Sarries' 22' lead to some desperate defending moves, leading to the loss of Saracens No. 6, Reece Boots-Hutchings into the sin bin. The numerical advantage in the pack meant the catch and drive tactic was even more potent as the Withies juggernaut made its way towards the line in Clubhouse Corner for the team's third try, George Doughty the scorer to make it 15-0.
As in the first half, a Withy try resulted in a burst of energy from the visitors as they used the backs to run the ball into spaces to gain some distance. Withy defence was effective in stunting their progression as they still struggled to exit their own half.
That being the case, Withy put their backs into action to counteract their advances and work back up the field. Withies' bonus point try came just before the hour mark when a well worked steal from Dave Richards was shipped out to Tom Cooke whose chip kick evaded the melee of Sarries defenders to find space behind the try line. With Tom's speedy chase, he collected his own kick to dot down and score, with two additional points from the following conversion.
Once again, Sarries responded with an elevated level of attack; and, making the most of the penalties, made their way into the Withycombe 22'. Some quick ball recycling managed to draw open a small gap in the defence to allow Albert Grieve in for a consolatory try.
The Withy boys were also keen to show they could further pick up the pace in response to the try and managed to get back and set up camp in Clubhouse Corner. More forward pressure and a scrum a little over 5m out was enough to set up Scrum Half and Man of the Match Ben Bolwell for a fifth score. Harry Symons' conversion brought the score to 29-5 with just four minutes to play.
There was still time for one more score and with the ball back up the field shortly after the restart, some hurried defending from Saracens saw the ball thrown forward into the hands of Joe Blyth who made the unopposed dash to the try line. Symons' second conversion brought the game to an end with the final score Withycombe 36, Exeter Saracens 5.
Next weekend, we enter the knockout stages of the cup where we once again welcome South Molton to Raleigh Park in the Semi Finals. Kick off next Saturday will be back to the usual time of 2:30pm.
With this being our final home game of the season, we would love to see you all down to pack the park and support the boys in the search from some silverware!