Winning start to season for Exmouth Withycombe RFC

By Adam Curtis

4th Sep 2023 | Rugby

Action photo (Adam Curtis)
Action photo (Adam Curtis)

Final score: Withycombe 36-10 North Tawton

With a sunny Taw Meadow playing host to the opening fixture of the 2023/24 season, both sides took to the field looking to make a good first impression.

Withy took this literally and in the first minute of the game found themselves on the scoreboard! An early scrum just inside the Withy half saw North Tawton try to make early ground, but the long pass was intercepted by Lewis Tose who stole the ball and made headway for the line. With the conversion taken quickly by Lewis, Withy had the dream start and were 0-7 up!

Following the restart, the ball was kept within the confines of the home half and Withy could build some momentum and pressure. Their hard efforts were rewarded when a quickly taken penalty by Tom Cooke took the home side by surprise, giving him access to the try line for Withy's second try in ten minutes.

Such was the quick nature of the game in its early stages, Withy then found themselves on the other side of an intercepted pass as the North Tawton centre plucked the ball from mid-air and made his way up the field to score under the posts.

This try, somewhat against the run of play, wouldn't deter the boys in green and black and before long, they were back on the attack. Some good play through the hands finds Mike Richards who broke through the defence to gain a good amount of distance; a couple phases later and the ball made its way to Jack Fear whose outstretched arm crossed the whitewash to widen the gap in scores, Cooke's touchline conversion sailed through the posts under pressure from the home side to bring the score to 7-19 after just 20min.

The next points of the game came through North Tawton's Flyhalf who took the option of three points just before the half hour mark to keep their game alive. Their efforts were somewhat hampered though in the closing stages of the half; with two yellow cards in two minutes, reducing the home side to thirteen men as the game reached half time.

The numerical advantage worked in the Withies' favour as, straight from the kick off, a strong break by Lewis Tose was stopped just short of the line, but the ball was shipped left to the awaiting Sam Warren, who crossed the line and secured the bonus point. In much the same manner as in the first half, scoring an early try fired up the visitors who, once again were on the front foot, causing all sorts of problems for the home side. A trademark Withy catch-and-drive was key in the boys' fifth try as Tom Cooke broke from the back of the maul 5m out to score his second of the game.

The next player to earn a brace of tries was Lewis Tose who taught North Tawton the valuable lesson of never letting a ball bounce – especially when behind the try line! With the bouncing ball evading the defending fullback, Tose jumped on the unoccupied ball to score. Tom Cooke topped up the points to bring the score to 10-36 after 55 minutes.

North Tawton weren't giving up however, and got some time with the ball, meaning Withy now had their first real test in defence as they worked well together to defend their territory, holding the boys in yellow up off the line. Withy cleared their lines but were soon back to defend from within the 22' and with the defence doing well, it came with a casualty with Jack Fear being sent to the sin bin.

Despite having the extra man, North Tawton were unable to break down the defence and with the game into it's final play the ball came to Billy Sharland who kicked the ball into touch to end proceedings. The final score, North Tawton 10, Withycombe 36.

The perfect start from Withycombe who travel back to Raleigh Park with the full five points under their belt. A strong opening performance from the side who will be pleased with the score, but also come away with some learning points to apply in training this week ahead of next weekend where we welcome OPMs to Raleigh Park. Kick Off at 2:30pm.


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