The old cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ is usually used more for football, but it was also the case at Raleigh Park this weekend as Withycombe hosted South Molton in the opening round of the Devon Junior Cup.

Withy started strongly and, following a penalty kick to touch, worked the ball through the hands. A short break by Luke Pattison found just enough space and with an outstretched arm, the try was scored. Harry Symons’ conversion sailed through the posts to give the boys an early 7-0 lead after seven minutes.

With some considerable pressure forcing the visitors to concede a 5m scrum, this scrum trundled towards the line at pace, allowing for Captain Joe Blyth to break out the back and score, with another Symons conversion.

South Molton did find some rhythm but were repelled by strong home defence and went further ahead with a trademark catch-and-drive from 8/9m out. With Dave Richards dotting down, Withy had a 19-0 lead.

In the second half, the wind and slope combined proved to be a real advantage as South Molton set up camp inside the Withy half during the opening phases, diving over for an early score.

This led to more pressure inside the home half and an increased number of penalties conceded, eventually leading to a yellow card for Dave Richards. With the man advantage, the gap was formed for South Molton to score their second try. The score now 19-12 as the hour mark approached.

With ten minutes remaining and unable to ignite the same spark as in the first half, Withy found themselves back inside their own half. With the territorial advantage, the pressure began to build again from South Molton and with that their third try. To the relief of the Withy camp, the conversion attempt was wide and the Withies maintained a slim 19-17 lead.

With both teams now keen on earning that win, play was largely contained to the centre of the field. Withy held on through to the final whistle to take the win. The final score: Withycombe 19, South Molton 17.

Next weekend, Withies welcome league champions Tavistock to Raleigh Park for round two of the cup. Kick-off: 2:30pm.