Counties 2 Tribute Devon: Exmouth Quins 0-18 Withycombe

The Imperial Recreation Ground may have played host to the town’s Fireworks display on Friday night, but the main display of the weekend occurred on the Saturday afternoon as the Withies made the 1-mile journey down the road for their derby day clash with Exmouth Quins.

Very much like a firework display, the game started in a cautious, gentle manner with both teams sharing possession in the early phases.

As the game built, a small flurry of activity in the Exmouth 22’ gave Withy some confidence with the ball, but the home defence stood strong, eventually earning the penalty and an opportunity for a breather.

Before long, Withy were back in the red zone and this time, they were handed the chance to get themselves in front with a shot at goal in front of the posts. Lewis Tose’s kick sailed through the posts and Withy were 0-3 up after 9 minutes.

Soon after the restart, Exmouth were awarded a kickable penalty of their own. However, with the kick falling short, Withy secured the ball and carried it back upfield.

Withy soon got the try they had deserved. With the Withy attack coming up against a white-and-heliotrope defensive wall, Max Rickards decided to chip the ball over the incoming defenders, he then lit the touchpaper to win the footrace to the line to score to huge celebrations from the visiting crowds. With no additional points coming from the tough conversion attempt, the score stood at 0-8 when the teams exchanged ends at half time.

With the second half underway, the heavy showers continued. This wouldn’t dampen the match though as, now with the wind in their favour, Withy were nudging their way through the yards to eventually find themselves within striking distance of the goalposts and a penalty advantage… The opportunity to extend their lead was calling – and Lewis Tose answered the call with pinpoint accuracy.

The next twenty minutes saw the ball largely contained to within the middle third of the field.

With ten minutes remaining, sparks began for Withy once again as they lit up the pitch with more pressure on Exmouth inside their 22’.

The ball was shipped wide at pace and out to debutant Gabe Ellis who exploded into action down the left-hand wing, leaving the defenders standing and scoring in the corner. Tom Cooke’s near-touchline conversion further topped up the points to put Withy 18 points up with little more than 5 minutes to play.

Slippery conditions had the final say when the Withies were on-course for a third try a short while later; but with the final whistle blowing a couple of minutes later, Withy had won the game with the final score, Exmouth Quins 0, Withycombe 18.

A classic derby day match played in horrendous conditions, but certainly did not turn into a damp squib! Withy maintain their unbeaten record against their closest rivals for another game and hold the bragging rights for a little longer!