Late try steals the win for Exmouth Withycombe RFC
By Nub News guest writer
16th Jan 2023 | Rugby
By Adam Curtis
Final score: Exmouth Withycombe 10-7 Brixham Crusaders
After heavy rain battered Raleigh Park, the game was touch-and-go for a while, but thanks to a huge effort from the groundskeeping team, along with a little help we were good to go!
Withy had a mixed start into the game with the scrum performing well, earning some decent turnovers. However, when it came to line-outs, Withy were less potent with a number of throws being stolen. This mean that any distance gained from any penalties was cancelled out shortly after.
It was soon evident that this was a stronger visiting side from that who hosted the Withies at Astley Park in October. That being said, the Withy boys were working well in defence, earning a few decent turnovers to extinguish any real pressure from the Crusaders.
Both sides had opportunities for a three-point lead, but with both kicks drifting wide of the mark, we remained scoreless after half an hour.
The penalty count was starting to build against Withycombe and with this, George Doughty was shown yellow after persistent team offences. This gave Brixham the advantage they needed as they crossed the line through Jack Dorothy after a short burst of pressure close to the Withycombe line. The converted try gave the visitors the lead at the break with the score at 0-7.
Going into the second half, Withy now had the slope and the wind in their favour. With this being the case, their style of play improved and showed more glimpses of the Withy team that we've seen and enjoyed throughout the season. A prolonged period in the Brixham half resulted in three further penalty attempts, unfortunately all three missed the mark; but this was still showing good intent and proof of improved performance. With the game now entering the final quarter, it was Brixham's turn to lose a player to the sin bin for repeat offences, and with the penalty it was another shot at goal; this one sailed through the posts to get Withies onto the scoreboard after 64 minutes.
At this point, it was 'game on' for the boys who were now keen on getting a score to get into the lead. This also upped the defensive level of the Crusaders, who wanted to keep the lead and earn a much-needed win. With just 30 seconds of 'normal' time remaining, Withy earned themselves a penalty and one last roll of the dice. With the ball being kicked into the corner, it was a good opportunity for the trademark catch-and-drive. The line-out was won, but the shove wasn't coming. The ball remained in hand and then the next penalty came on their 5m line.
Ordinarily, a scrum would've been the number one option, but with Brixham losing a prop to the sin-bin they were unable to compete at the scrum. With uncontested scrums being the only way forward, Withy opted for the tap-and-go; desperation in defence meant that Brixham repeatedly would stray offside from the penalty, so the possession was maintained, and another penalty advantage would be awarded.
Eventually, after almost ten minutes of added time, the inevitable came as Billy Sharland crashed through the visiting defence to score beside the posts to a huge cheer from both the players and supporters alike. With the final conversion bisecting the posts, the game was over and Withy had stolen the win at the death in the most dramatic of circumstances.
The win marks the fourth in a row for Withy who now sit second in the table after Torquay & Honiton's game both saw cancellations and abandonments. The boys will need to pull out all the stops next week to remain at this impressive position in the league. The game in question will be a tough one as they travel west to take on table-toppers Tavistock. Kick off from Sandy Park, we imagine, will be at 2:30pm.