Withycombe net superb victory at Saltash

PUBLISHED: 08:39 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 08:39 16 January 2014

Boxing Day rugby at Withycombe

Boxing Day rugby at Withycombe

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Saltash 19, Withycombe 24

Withycombe got their season back on track with a smart display of rugby in their last visit to Cornwall this season, writes Mike Richards.

Saltash stole an early lead after Withycombe blew an overlap and threw an interception that was returned for a try at the other end.

A Glenn Channing penalty was the visitors only reward for their early spells of pressure. Saltash then set up camp in the visitors’ 22 only to be denied time and again by the Withycombe defence, and by a forward pass which would otherwise have allowed them to score in the corner.

Withycombe’s scrum dominated the tight exchanges, and this was never more evident than when a second successive maul was pulled down in the Saltash 22, the referee awarding a penalty try as reward for Withycombe’s efforts. Channing slotted the conversion to send Withy into the break 10-7 up.

The second half was nip and tuck, though Withycombe will feel they created the better of the chances.

The slippery conditions coupled with the fact that this was both sides’ first game in four weeks, were contributing factors to a contest that was played with lots of attacking intent, but lacking the finishing edge.

Ashes captain Max Venables kept the ball in hand to score the try that put his side in front. He ghosted through the Withy defence, outpacing the cover from a scrum.

Withycombe hit back through the returning Adam Morris, who intercepted a dangerous-looking pass from Venables to redress the balance of tries scored from interceptions. Though Morris couldn’t find his way to the posts, Channing kicked the tricky wide out conversion to make it 17-12.

Aaron Conway almost scored the try of the day; he returned a clearing kick, chipped ahead himself and got over the line, only to drop the ball before being able to ground it. Withycombe scored soon after as a turnover from Ashes’ desire to attack from deep led to Dan James making the decisive pick and go. Channing’s conversion put Withycombe firmly in the driving seat.

Saltash put themselves back in the game after repeated pressure in the Withycombe 22 ended with Liam Cullen in the sin bin and a try under the posts. They wouldn’t threaten the Withycombe line again though, and Withycombe in fact spurned a try bonus point with the last play of the game. A win in Cornwall with the first game after Christmas is not to be sniffed at, though. Withycombe welcome Hayle to Raleigh Park next week looking to build on this performance.

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