Exmouth Withycombe RFC topples Tavistock

By Nub News guest writer

9th Apr 2023 | Rugby

Callum Tose Scores for Withycombe
Callum Tose Scores for Withycombe

Final score: Withycombe 36-14 Tavistock

Withies became the only club to bag two wins against league champions Tavistock this weekend with a strong second-half performance at Raleigh Park.

The game got underway with the Withies heading downfield and soon made their way into the Tavistock half and had the opportunity to take the lead with a penalty kick, unfortunately the tricky wind meant the ball hit the uprights and remained in play.

With the ball back in Tavistock hands, they headed up the pitch and kicked the ball into some space on the Withycombe try line, however the visitors failed to get a clean grounding and knocked the ball on.

Following a long period of shared possession in the middle of the field, it would be 20 minutes before the first points of the game. A well taken 50:22 kick put the Moorlanders in a strong position and with a quickly taken penalty, they were over the line thanks to Hammy Kerswill.

Withycombe were temporarily reduced to 14 men at the restart after George Doughty's mistimed tackle led to ten minutes in the sin bin. With the player advantage, Tavistock were largely controlling the play, but the Withy defence stood strong.

There was only a couple of minutes remaining of the half when Withy got some points on the board; a powerful break from Russ Morris set up former Colts player Tommy Foa for his first senior XV try on his debut. The conversion attempt was missed, but Withies were back down inside the Tavy 22' soon after with another chance. The boys set up the driving maul from a line out 10m out. With the maul being brought down by the visiting prop on the 5m line, the yellow card was shown, and Withy had the penalty, a scrum was called, and they had one last chance to go into the break ahead. Unfortunately, with the ball being lost forward in the wide pass the first half was brought to a close and Tavistock went into the break with a narrow 5-7 lead.

A strong second half was needed from the boys in green and black who would need to gain something from the game to keep in contention for the knockout stages of the cup.

The challenge was made all the harder as Tavy showed why they were league champions with some fancy footwork to outrun the Withy defence to score their second try just five minutes into the half.

Despite now being 9 points down, Withy weren't giving up as they gained in strength up the slope, being encouraged by the packed Raleigh Park crowd. The dynamics of the game changed with Tavistock losing their number 8 to the sin bin after another dropped maul hampered Withy's progression to the try line.

The Withycombe comeback began through Callum Tose who crashed through in the corner after a 15m dash to the line, showing some equally as fancy footwork to his opposite number. A third Withy try came just four minutes later as the boys took the lead through Billy Sharland as he found the tiniest of spaces between the defenders on the try line. The conversion was good to put the boys 17-14 ahead - a costly sin bin for the Moorlanders!

After another period of top quality, competitive rugby from both sides, Withy found themselves growing in strength and confidence in the bustling Clubhouse Corner. Mike Richards secured the bonus point as he launched over the line to finish off some patiently controlled multi-phase play.

A second try a few minutes later from Mike's hugely outstretched right arm made sure of the result as the second-rower burst through the tackles to complete his brace of tries.

There was still more action to come though as, once back up inside the Tavistock red zone, Ben Bolwell finished off a final period of strong pressure play as he broke through to score under the posts. Will Cooper's conversion brought an end to the game with the final score Withycombe 36, Tavistock 14.

A much-deserved win for the boys who showed what they were made of, in the second half especially. It didn't come easy though as full credit goes to Tavistock who showed their skill and made us work for every point.

The win means that Withy have now booked a place into the semi-finals of the Devon Junior Cup; whether it is a home or away fixture will depend on the outcome of next weekend's match as the boys travel to Exhibition Fields in Exeter to take on Exeter Saracens in the final group stage of the cup. Kick off will be at 3pm.


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