Dawson at the double as Withy bag 17th straight win to close in on the Devon One title

PUBLISHED: 23:13 01 March 2020 | UPDATED: 23:13 01 March 2020

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9179 Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9179 Picture: Terry Ife

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Withycombe chalked up a 17th victory of the Devon One League campaign beating Ilfracombe 31-7 and, in doing so, have now opened up a 20 point at the top of the table.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9168 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9168 Picture: Terry Ife

It all means that a bonus point win on their visit to Torrington this coming Saturday (March 7) will see the green and blacks seal promotion back to the Cornwall and Devon League they slipped out of 11 months ago.

The game was switched from a waterlogged Raleigh Park across to the pitch at Bicton College and Withy were straight onto the front foot.

It took them just five minutes to stamp their authority in proceedings with Ben Dawson, one of six colts in the Withy matchday squad of 20, led a break that ended with the ball swung out to Paddy Haddad who crossed in the corner for an unconverted try.

Two minutes later the lead was extended with Neil Williams showing the visiting back line a clean set of heels as he made a 40-yard dash to the line before shipping the ball to the supporting Rory Collings who crossed the whitewash and, with the conversion successful, Withy led 12-0.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9166 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9166 Picture: Terry Ife

As the pitch cut up it made handling much tougher than usual and, despite enjoying the lion's share of both ball and territory, Withy progress was thwarted by handling errors.

In contrast, Ilfracombe grew into the contest and, when visiting fly half Dermot Dalton was denied a try by a high tackle, the match official had no option but to ward a penalty try.

Boosted by the score, the visitors continued to play on the front foot which caused Withy a number of problems as the home were again hindered by handling errors, but there were no further scores up to half-time and the teams trooped off for a deserved break with Withy 21-7 ahead.

The early second half exchanges saw both teams enjoy good possession with much of the action played out in the mid of the middle third of the pitch.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9157 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9157 Picture: Terry Ife

Withy eventually wore the visitors down with a combination of powerful forward play and improved handling and, when they set up a driving maul in the Ilfracombe 22, they were held up over the line and, from the ensuing five-metre scrum, Mike Richards trundled over and the Haddad conversion dissected the uprights to take Withy into a 19-7 lead.

Ben Dawson soon added his name to the try scoring as he powered his way down the wing to secure the bonus point try with 60 minutes played.

The mud continued to be as big a problem as either teams organised and disciplined defending.

There were 10 minutes left on the clock when Dawson completed another blistering wing run to bag his second try and another Haddad conversion rounded off the scoring.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9101 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9101 Picture: Terry Ife

There was no doubt that the visiting team played their part in a fine game, but it was the greater stamina in the Withy ranks that made the difference on the day. Now Withy turn their attention to Torrington on Saturday where an 18th straight win will see them one hand firmly on the Devon One title trophy.

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9100 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9100 Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9097 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9097 Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9036 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe v Ilfracombe Ref exsp 10 20TI 9036 Picture: Terry Ife

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