Festive fixture proves to be a cracker for Exmouth Withycombe RFC
By Nub News guest writer
19th Dec 2022 | Rugby
Final score: Withycombe RFC 24-6 North Tawton RFC
After frosty conditions caused problems around the county last week, there was plenty of action to warm the crowds in this pre-Christmas game.
Withy started the contest well and maintained possession for good portions of the early phases. Despite this, it was the visitors that claimed the opening points of the game with a kickable penalty after six minutes.
Withy responded immediately as a great break from Mike Richards found Will Cooper who sprinted for the line to score the try. Although the conversion attempt was missed, Withy were back in the lead just one minute after going behind.
This lead was extended shortly after courtesy of Joe Blyth who finished off a great piece of driving work from the Withy pack; with the conversion attempt dropping just short, the score now stood at 10-3 after 15 minutes.
After a flurry of activity, play settled down and was shared between the teams from the confines of the middle third of the field, however after a double injury change for Withycombe, the team dynamic momentarily took a hit, giving North Tawton an opportunity to put some pressure of Withies. The boys did well to defend through this for quite some time until the visitors finally got a chance at goal to double their points tally on the stroke of half time. With the whistle blowing, the sides swapped ends with Withy leading 10-6.
With the second half underway and now playing up the slope, Withy started brightly once again, pinning the Tawts in their own half on the edge of their 22'. With the ball recycling through multiple phases, an opportunity to go wide into space wasn't exploited and the pressure was averted as the ball and player were bundled into touch. Not to be to put off by this, the pressure continued regardless and eventually paid off with another catch-and-drive score in Clubhouse Corner, Chris Gibbons emerged from the pile as try-scorer and with Tom Cooke's touchline conversion sailing through the posts, Withycombe's lead was extended to 17-6.
As we had expected, North Tawton still continued to play hard both in both attack and defence. Withy were all too aware of the threat their opponents posed and continued to play well in the chilly conditions.
The Withies' attack was dealt a blow after Will Hockin was sent to the sin bin after his well-timed tackle was adjudged to be too high, reducing us to 14 men. This was equalled out just three minutes later after North Tawton's Ryan Gross was yellow carded from an offence in the scrum on their 5m line.
Withy were being made to work hard in every element of the game throughout the final quarter of the game as they continued to work towards their 4-try bonus point. As just as they returned to 15 men, they lost Captain Jack Fear to the bin in similar fashion to the first card. This seemed to only feed the desire for more points as in the closing stages, a final push saw multiple phases of recycled ball draw in the visiting defenders, leaving the open side unmanned; this gap was spotted by the boys who flung the ball wide to Matt Tarney to run in and score in front of the jubilant Clubhouse Corner crowd. With the time now up, Cooke's conversion ended proceedings with the final score Withycombe 24, North Tawton 6.
We now head into the Christmas break with our next league game on the 7th January with a trip to Mid-Devon to face South Molton. Ahead of that though is our Boxing Day game with a Withycombe Club XV will take on the President's XV. It's the greatest game of the year and everyone is invited. The fun gets underway at 10:30am with kick off at 11am (ish!).
Until then, we'd like to wish our supporters, members and players a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.