Injuries hamper the Withy progress

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 12:25 10 June 2010

WITHYCOMBE hosted high flying Wadebridge at Raleigh Park where, in horse racing parlance, the going was soft to heavy, writes Nigel Sueter.

WITHYCOMBE hosted high flying Wadebridge at Raleigh Park where, in horse racing parlance, the going was soft to heavy, writes Nigel Sueter.

The referee was very strict on two aspects of the game, releasing the ball in the tackle and the tackler rolling away as the hosts learned in the opening minutes as they defended a quick visitors attacking move.

Luckily, the ball did not go over, so Withy were let off the hook although it was to take a while for the hosts to shake off a lacklustre start.

Despite strong defending, lead by Richard Hall, Wadebridge went over for a converted try before an injury to John Parkin saw Withycombe having to make significant changes to the team positions which coincided with it starting to rain.

The visitors seemed to cope far better with the worsening conditions and it was only a knock-on that prevented them adding to their earlier score.

The home side then launched a counter-attack from which they were awarded a penalty, duly tucked away by Richard Hall.

A defensive error, not the first of the contest, by the home side, allowed the visitors in for their second try and, as the rain grew heavier, it was Withy who looked more uncomfortable in efforts to move the ball around.

The ball was being moved at different heights and angles which made it difficult for a rhythm to establish itself and when some control was exercised poor kicking out of hand negated several strong attacking moves.

It would have been better if the backs had played the ball.

A penalty against Withy for being offside from the ruck gave the visitors the chance of another seven points which they took to end the first half 23 points ahead.

The second half did not go well for the home side as they were unable to stop another Wadebridge try, despite strong defence, the price of which was Jimmy Holman limping out of the action.

Strong attacking moves by both sides were met by equally strong defence.

Unfortunately, Tony Burgess had to leave with an injury and, with the hosts having deployed all their replacements, further tactical reshuffling was required.

Richard Blyth left the front row to bolster the second row and, despite the changes, Withy refused to concede ball or ground and their persistence was rewarded by Ben Mardle intercepting a Wadebridge pass.

He ran in from the halfway line to score and, as a reward, was allowed to convert his own try.

And still the rain kept falling, getting heavier and heavier. Wadebridge pushed hard towards the Withycombe line and came away with another five points.

With the rain getting heavier and deep puddles forming, the referee decide to end the game early because of serious concerns for player safety.

The conditions were poor, but it was Wadebridge who handled them better in the first half. Withycombe did a splendid job limiting the score in the second half to 7 - 10.

Next week Withycombe are away to middle of the table North Petherton.

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