Exmouth edge out Withycombe in terrific Under-13 tussle
PUBLISHED: 08:57 05 March 2015 | UPDATED: 08:57 05 March 2015
With most of the junior rugby being cancelled due to waterlogged pitches the local derby match between Withycombe and Exmouth Under-13s went ahead thanks to St Peters School.
The contest was always going to be a tense affair with both sides having enjoyed a good season to date and friendly rivalry giving much to play for. There was good support for both teams and it most certainly became a classic ‘game of two halves’.
Withycombe got off to a good start and were soon deep in Exmouth territory and, while some sterling defence kept the hosts out for a while, the pressure soon resulted in Withy crossing the line only to find the Cockles had successfully held the ball up!
Quick ball from the resulting scrum gave Withy the chance to touch down to get the first points on the board, unfortunately the conversion attempt was just wide of the upright.
Soon after Withy again had the opportunity to score and this time a well worked move from a five-metre line-out and a conversion allowed Withycombe to stretch their lead to 12 points. Exmouth started to have some possession and were working well as a team and there was now some parity in the game only for them to get knocked back by a clean line break from midfield and sublime offload by Withycombe to score their third and the best try of the match, to lead 17-0.
The Cockles then lost flanker Arron Lee to a facial injury, but Exmouth dug deep, reorganised the pack and Jared Palmer joined the fray which helped to balance the scrum.
Withy were pushed back for a sustained period and the pressure told with Harry Sprague, now playing at number eight, picked up from the back of a five-metre scrum and forced his way over to see his side into half-time trailing 17-5.
After the break the Cockles got the basics right and became a little more clinical and this gave them control of territory and possession.
Korbin Gillman, having replaced Eddie Ford at loose head prop, sustained a shoulder injury midway through the second half, but he performed well for the time he was on the field.
The Exmouth front row of Jack Briggs, Olly Cowley (Blu Sandy in the second half) and Eddie Ford, had the better of their larger opposition and the scrum was working well.
Withycombe were determined to retain their lead and defended with vigour.
However, the Cockles were probing across the pitch and Callum Freeman and Zac Tucker were giving the width of attack which was needed to open spaces in the middle and eventually Ben Dawson broke through from the centre and touched down under the posts which left him with a simple task to convert his try and take their tally to 12.
This was to be a good period for the Cockles and after a further session of being camped on the Withies five-metre line Dawson scrambled over to level the score at 17 points each.
Unaware of the score line being even Dawson stepped up and converted to give the Cockles the lead for the first time.
There was not much time remaining and Withycombe threw everything at the Cockles, but the defence was solid and the Cockles were pleased to take the two point victory.
After the match Coach Mike Sprague congratulated his team on a great performance and praised everyone who took to the field and those who didn’t get the opportunity to play on this occasion. This was a very competitive game of rugby played in good spirit between two evenly balanced team and does much to show the pool of talent in the town.
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