Withycombe 50, Veor 5 (abandoned after 60 minutes)

Veor remain adrift at the bottom of the Cornwall and Devon league following a lesson in how to play wet weather rugby dished out by Withy in front of the Raleigh Park, writes Mike Richards.

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Following yet another week of inclement meteorological conditions, Withycombe’s ground staff again earned high praise for their workmanlike efforts in getting the pitch ready. By now the Green and Black Army ought to be the best in the west in the wet, their last five outings coming in washouts, and all wins at that.

Veor are to be applauded for assembling a side at late notice; at 12 noon they were due to forfeit the fixture as they only had 13 players. As it was they somehow amassed 15 bodies by kick-off and it was game on!

Withycombe showed their hand early, showing no mercy as they moved the ball wide off a stolen lineout with Sam Conway finishing with a try with just three minutes on the clock. Seven minutes later Fridge Gibbons popped up on the wing to ghost over in exactly the spot front row compatriot Will Cole had three weeks previously. Channing hit the touchline conversion to make it 14-0.

On 22 minutes a five metre scrum gave the home side the platform to run a simple blindside move for Adam Morris to score in the corner. Two minutes later John Parkin secured the bonus point by hacking a loose ball from the back of a Veor scrum and falling on it in the in-goal area.

Veor spent a while after this camped in the Withycombe 22, exerting great amounts of pressure but ultimately coming away with nothing. Some great last-ditch defending from the home side covered for their penalty count and a Withycombe turnover relieved the pressure. Soon after Veor spirits were crushed from a scrum move, as Aaron Conway worked a half-gap and popped inside to Mike Richards. Another inside pass to Jack Pugsley looked to be the scoring pass but Pugsley’s hamstrings failed him as he was hauled down mere feet from the line. Quick recycling gave John Parkin the simplest of tasks to score his second. Mike Richards finished the scoring with a pick from the scrum base and slid just far enough to ground the ball on the line for a 36-0 halftime lead.

The worsening conditions in the second half made scoring point’s hard work, and the cold tired bodies of both sides lacked the urgency of the first half. Freddie Fraser’s tireless legs found the energy to hack on a Jack Pugsley chip on 55 minutes though, the centre diving on the ball to score his sixth try of the season. Three minutes later Veor got their reward for making the trip, scoring a try of their own to possibly the biggest cheer of the day. Cornish character could not stop Sam Conway getting his second on 60 minutes though, and another Channing touchline conversion triggered the final whistle as the referee deemed the pitch unworthy of playing on.

Withycombe travel to Exeter Saracens on Saturday looking to continue their unbeaten post-Christmas run.

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