Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Withycombe 18, Saltash 28
Withycombe slipped, literally and figuratively, to another defeat in awful conditions at Raleigh Park, writes Mike Richards.
Despite the stellar efforts of groundskeeper Peter Farley, the match quickly descended into an error-ridden mud bath!
Saltash played up the field with the wind at their backs in the first half, wisely booting the ball from their own half at every opportunity.
Withycombe’s staunch desire to play the kind of rugby usually associated with mid-March got them into trouble, and an early penalty was swiftly followed up with a pick-and-go try under the posts for the visitors.
After conceding one in almost identical fashion the week before, Withycombe should be looking to tighten up around the fringes for their visit to Plymouth next week!
A Jack Pugsley penalty was Withycombe’s only reward for the first half efforts, the whistle blowing with the visitors 16-3 up.
As the second half got underway the home team’s restart-phobia struck again with Saltash returning the Withy kick underneath the posts to open up what would prove to be an unassailable 23-3 lead.
Despite losing James Perkins and skipper Dave Richards to injury, Withycombe played their best rugby in the second half.
With the wind dropped, Withy persisted with the kicking game. The ball proved to be a liability in the conditions and Withies’ resurgence started with a five-metre scrum, Mike Richards picking and feeding Rob Hayes on the blindside to score his maiden Withycombe try.
Further pressure gave Pugsley another penalty before a quick tap from scrum half Mike Symons caught the Saltash defence napping, John Parkin straightening the line to dash over and give Withycombe hope at 23-18.
However, some smart territory play from Saltash led to a Withycombe lineout ten metres from their own line, and with the sharpshooting Dave Richards on the sidelines, the throw went awry and the ball was scooped up by a grateful Saltash forward who put the game beyond doubt. Withycombe take on OPMs this Saturday looking for a rare away win.