Victory for Exmouth Withycombe RFC in soggy South Molton
By Nub News guest writer
9th Jan 2023 | Rugby
By Adam Curtis
Final score: Withycombe RFC 12-7 South Molton RFC
With the Christmas break out of the way, Withy resumed their season with a trip to Mid-Devon to play South Molton.
With the game underway, it was a less than ideal start for the visitors as a delayed lineout throw 10m from the Withy try line from South Molton proved to be the perfect tactic to set up a catch-and-drive attack. Withy dealt with the initial surge well, but this left a gap which was exploited by Molton who scored the opening try of the game after just three minutes.
Despite the early try, Withy were playing well with ball in hand; however, when it came to the aerial game, it was South Molton that were the gaining the advantage. With the wind and slope in their favour, the sticky pitch gave no extra bouncing distance, meaning it was just the slope that would prove to be of any assistance in territorial gains.
The end-to-end rugby continued for much of the first half. It wasn't until 36 minutes, following a period of pressure deep in the South Molton 22' where the scores were levelled through Joe Blyth who's break from the back of the scrum and dummy pass foxed the defence, allowing for an unopposed run behind the posts. Tom Cooke converted to bring the scores level at 7-7.
After the score, Withy found a level of confidence that they hadn't shown for large parts of the first half. With confidence came more skill and pressure and with this, a scrum penalty 6m out from the South Molton line in the final play of the half. Withy scrums from this far out can often have a positive outcome, and this was no different as the ball trundled the 6m over the line to score. With Chris 'Fridge' Gibbons emerging from the pile with the ball, Withy went into the break 7-12 ahead.
With the slope and wind now in their favour, Withy now had the advantage, but with this the rain had now begun, making things all the more difficult. Undeterred by this, Withycombe enjoyed the lion's share of the territory, pinning the hosts largely inside their own half. A chance to increase the points gap came through an ambitious penalty attempt from halfway, but in the worst luck, the wind dropped at just the wrong time and the ball fell agonisingly short of the posts. Another opportunity came a little later with another driving scrum, but with the momentum not quite being enough, the ball was uncharacteristically shipped out to the relief of the South Molton players who managed to defend well to prevent the score.
As the game entered its final quarter, the close scoreline meant that any further score would be vital. Both sides picked up the pace to make it a hugely entertaining, albeit close contest.
The final five minutes were especially close, with Molton desperately piling on the pressure in the hunt for a late score. Withy defence was standing strong though as they worked hard to prevent that score. In the final minute of the game, the hosts earned themselves a penalty. With one final chance, the ball was sent into touch inside the Withy half. With the lineout won, they opted with the blindside run, and with this they were bundled into touch by the Withy defence to a huge cheer by the numerous traveling supporters.
With this, the whistle blew, with the final score South Molton 7, Withycombe 12.
A narrow win, but every one counts – especially in those tight games. The four points earned has helped Withy gain a 6-point cushion in third place in the league.
Next weekend, Withycombe welcome Brixham Crusaders to Raleigh Park. Kick off will be at 2:30pm.