Late drama secures the points at Raleigh Park for Exmouth Withycombe RFC

By Nub News guest writer

5th Dec 2022 | Rugby


Line-out (Withycombe RFC)
Line-out (Withycombe RFC)

By Adam Curtis

As the season reaches the halfway point, Withy were looking to get their first home and away win of the season with the arrival of Exeter Saracens to Raleigh Park.

The game started well for Withy as they took the lead courtesy of Ben West who was swift to respond to a Sarries error and found himself with the ball and clear sight of the line. Harry Symons' conversion topped up the points to put Withy 7-0 up after 15min.

Unfortunately, this lead wouldn't last long as just three minutes later, the visitors were level in a near-identical fashion. This gave Saracens a boost in their play as Withy failed to get back into any rhythm after the quick equaliser. Struggling to clear their half, Withies conceded the penalty in a kickable position to give Sarries the lead. Two further penalties and losing Dave Richards to the sin bin saw Withycombe in a bit of a sticky situation as the first half was drawing to an end. However, a sudden burst of energy whipped up some excitement and pressure in the Exeter 22' in the last couple minutes before the break. The infringements in defence saw their scrum half sent to the bin. On this occasion, no points were scored either as we entered the break 7-16 down.

Withy knew they had some work to do in the second half, but with the slope now in their favour, they had a chance! The comeback was dealt a setback straight from the kick off though as the visitors ran the ball down the left wing to score in the corner for another seven points.

It was starting to look worrying for Withy, but this try proved to be the catalyst for recovery as they regained the momentum from the opening 10min of the game to get themselves back into contention. Playing with a little more freedom, Withy strung some good phases of play together to return to Sarries' 22' and then deploy the pack's potent attack to score as Joe Blyth bagged his sixth try of the season. Symons was once again on target to add the extra points.

This much better level of play from the boys meant that the visitors were, themselves, now unable to leave their own half as they had to prove their defence was as good as their attack. A little after the hour mark it became a one-score game as Withy were back on the scoreboard thanks to Neil Williams who spotted the gap through the melee of defenders to bring the score to 19-23.

At this point, it was game on as the Withies remained keen on getting more than just the single point out of the game. Sarries defence stood strong though and they made a couple of half breaks up the field when in attack.

However, with just five minutes remaining, Withy had the Sarries in the one place they didn't want to be… just off the 5m line in their own 22'. After a few reset scrums and a couple more through penalties, Withies got the shove on as they began to walk the ball towards the line, but with repeated infringements from the defending Sarries boys, the referee had had enough and headed for the posts to award Withycombe the penalty try.

Now chasing the lead for the first time in over an hour, Sarries ran up the field to take the restart quickly, however the panicked kick went dead to give Withy the possession with another scrum back at halfway.

This possession was largely kept for the final few minutes of the game and was aided with the Sarries skipper heading to the bin for an off-the-ball offence. With the time finally up, Withy kicked the ball into touch to take the hard-fought win. Final score Withycombe 26, Exeter Saracens 23.

A huge comeback, and another to show the fighting spirit of the boys who overturned a poor first half and 16-point deficit to finish taking the full five points back to the changing room at the end.

Next weekend, Withies take to the road to face third-placed Honiton at Alhallows in what will be another good test for the boys in green and black.

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