Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Withycombe 23, Crediton 20
Withycombe signed off their season with a tenth win in 11 games in a hard-fought win over local rivals Crediton on Saturday.
With third spot in the league standings up for grabs, the Raleigh Park faithful were in for a treat as both sides came out with all guns blazing. A frantic initial burst from Withycombe gave Jack Pugsley the opening points of the game as he slotted a penalty with just a minute gone, and after the home side soaked up the pressure from a Crediton onslaught, Pugsley and Mark Lee exchanged penalty kicks to make the score 6-3.
Withycombe finally got over the tryline with a superbly taken counter attack try on 24 minutes. Rob Hayes made the initial break down the right wing, before passing inside to Adam Morris who lass beat the last man, allowing Richard Hodges to dash under the posts. Crediton again piled on the pressure before half time, but their only reward was Chris Gibbons’ first yellow card of his career on 35 minutes as Withycombe turned round 13-3 up.
Gibbons’ absence would cost Withy a penalty just before his reintroduction though as Crediton got the best of the home scrum for the only time in the game, allowing Lee to close the gap to seven points with a penalty conversion. The balance was redressed six minutes later when a scrum was won against the head going uphill on the Crediton five-metre line, with Mike Richards running over two hapless defenders on his way to the try line.
Crediton hit back with a try after Withycombe repeatedly failed to clear their lines to bring themselves back within five points, but the Green and Blacks hit back immediately. After two quick phases, Dave Richards, who had started the game moonlighting at fly-half rather than his usual position of hooker, was now playing blindside flanker and put Aaron Conway away in the top corner with the finest of miss-passes to extend Withycombe’s lead to ten points with 24 minutes to go.
Withy once again struggled to work their way out of their own half, but Crediton would have to wait until the 75th minute to score, and even then it would come as a result of a charged down clearance kick. With the game in the balance again, Withycombe turned it on and drove the Crediton scrum back over their own line in the final play of the game. John Parkin was unlucky not to be awarded the bonus point try after he grounded the ball, but the roar of Clubhouse Corner as the final whistle sounded was ample reward for the players’ efforts. Withycombe supporters can surely look forward to a fruitful year next season on the back of the run since Christmas.