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Exmouth's Withycombe RFC beats Exeter Saracens

By Will Goddard

12th Sep 2022 | Rugby


Against Exeter Saracens (Jim Davis)
Against Exeter Saracens (Jim Davis)

By Adam Curtis

Final score: Exmouth Withycombe 39-22 Exeter Saracens

With both sides enjoying a largely positive opening round, things were set nicely for round two. Sarries extended their lengthy 13-game winning streak with a 13-38 win on the road against Devonport Services; and, despite not getting the win, Withies came away with a losing bonus point against a strong Barnstaple Athletic outfit.

Exeter Saracens got the game underway and right from the off showed huge intent. With just one minute on the clock, they opened the scoring with a penalty. With the early lead, Sarries were keen on more points as they dominated the early phases of play, putting on the pressure. The home side then looked to get the opening try as well following a well-timed break but a last-ditch tackle from Withy saved the try.

This strong start from the hosts took Withy a little by surprise, but as the boys began to warm up, they re-ignited that strength upfront that they had demonstrated last weekend and went on to earn two scrum penalties in a row and put some pressure of their own onto Sarries.

This pressure was converted into points as debutant and eventual man of the match Dion Warner carried the ball well from a lineout, breaking down the first line of defence before passing the ball out to Tom Cooke who caught his own chipped ball to score under the posts to put the boys 3-7 ahead after 9 minutes. Withycombe were back on the scoresheet shortly after the restart when Sam Warren intercepted the Saracens attack to break clear and score; Cooke's conversion doubled the Withy points tally to 14.

The pressure continued to build for Sarries as the Withies scrum continued to be a powerful weapon in the game; this wasn't to say though that the home side weren't to bring their own pressure as they would make sure to test the Withy defence in open play with some threatening phases of play through the backs.

As the game entered its second quarter, each side's skills combined to create a more exciting game of end-to-end rugby, Tom Cooke's boot topped up the scoreboard to the tune of 6 points with two penalties for Withy and with the penalty count beginning to build for the home side, they were reduced to 14 men with Scrum Half Jared Cooper being sent to the Sin Bin. Withy made the most of this and exploited the gap well when Joe Blyth peeled away from a rolling maul 5m out to score and bring the first half to a close with the score at 03-25.

The second half continued much as the first one had finished, with some exciting rugby being played across the field. Both sets of backs showed some great rugby, testing each defence too! The first points of the second period came through the hosts after a few good phases of rugby saw the ball travel out wide for a try in the corner of the pitch.

With Saracens getting a little more into the game, their discipline slipped once again with them losing their fullback to the sin bin for a ten-minute spell on the sidelines. Shortly after, they lost a second after a driving maul was brought down illegally on the try line, giving the referee no choice but to award Withy the penalty try and show the tighthead prop yellow.

With a two-man deficit and no complete front row, the next ten minutes were played with uncontested scrums, extinguishing Withy's largest attacking point upfront. With this being the case, and against what would be expected in their situation, Sarries refused to let their heads drop and picked up the pace; this caught Withy out a little as a short outage of concentration allowed the hosts back into the game through two quick-fire tries, bringing the score from 8-32 to 22-32 in a matter of 6 minutes.

With large amounts of time taken up with stoppages during the second half and the score line suddenly a lot closer, the closing stages of the game seemed to take ages for both the players and travelling supporters. Those two quick tries had fired up Exeter Saracens who were now looking more dangerous than ever; thankfully it had also given the Withy boys a boost as well who were keen to carry the lead through to the final whistle. The speedy work from the backs combined with the powerful pack to put more pressure on and with a well worked clearing kick from Cooke finding the Saracens 5m line, the hosts knew they needed to look after the ball in this dangerous position, but with the ball being overthrown past the lineout, it landed in the hands of Withy Number 8 Luke Pattison who ran the short journey to the line to score the final try of the game. Cooke's conversion bisected the posts to bring the game to a close with the final score being Exeter Saracens 22, Withycombe 39.

A great display from every player on the field this week with some impressive individual performances, as well as collectively as a team.

The boys will be wanting to take this momentum with them back to Raleigh Park ready for next weekend when we welcome Honiton in round three. Kick off next Saturday will be at 2:30pm.

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