St Ives 32, Withycombe 5

Withycombe were well beaten in Cornwall, their second defeat in the Duchy this term.

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Withy, playing up the slope and into the wind, started the better of the two sides, but struggled to turn early possession into points. In fact St Ives took the lead after the swirling wind took hold of a high ball and a cruel bounce led to a catastrophic error in the Withycombe backfield.

Despite a knock-on in the build up, the try was awarded, and, with Withycombe still reeling, the hosts scored again soon after to make it 12-0 after 12 minutes. If things felt ominous for the travelling Withy supporters, the next 20 minutes gave them cause for hope in the second half as the simplistic St Ives game plan of hoof ‘n’ chase yielded no results. In fact Withycombe were the ones to curse missed opportunities, with a penalty kick for touch going dead, passes not quite going to hand and the unthinkable happening; Mike Symons chased down with nothing but green grass between him and the try line!

Unfortunately Withycombe could not quite hold on until halftime; a poor clearance kick from inside the 22 was gathered by the acting St Ives fullback, who bamboozled the Withy defence with some dazzling footwork to score in the right hand corner. A penalty on the stroke of halftime made it 22-0 to the hosts.

Withycombe’s second half will be remembered by most as another glut of missed opportunities: with the penalty count finishing at 13-6 in Withycombe’s favour, it afforded ample opportunity for the trusty Withies’ rolling maul. Except Ives were wise to this, and by fair means or foul, disrupted the Withycombe mauls time and again to thwart Withy’s attempts at their line. Two St Ives yellow cards for persistent infringement were still not enough for Withycombe to break down the well-organised Ives defence. Terry Mears came closest only to drop the ball agonisingly close to the line, until late in the day when some sterling defensive pressure and a big hit from Andrei Toma allowed John Parkin to dive on the loose ball and claim Withies’ scant reward for all their good work. As if to rub salt in the wounds, Ives then scored a late try, with a forward pass in the build up, to claim the four-try bonus point.

Coach Trevor Harris had said before the game that “sometimes the bounce of the ball will change a game” and it had felt like Withycombe’s luck had deserted them. That said, even hardened Withy supporters could not argue the fact that the result was the right one, however, the score line flattered St Ives, and following Withies’ creditable display against a team who will surely be title challengers, Ives will surely not relish the return fixture at Raleigh Park later in the season.

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