PUBLISHED: 10:36 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 10 June 2010
Copyright Archant Ltd
Withycombe 13, Kingsbridge 7 Western Counties West Withycombe are looking determined to hold on to their Western Counties status as they overcame a lively Kingsbridge outfit. In conditions that belied flowing rugby, both sides produced a good contest.
Withycombe 13, Kingsbridge 7Western Counties WestWithycombe are looking determined to hold on to their Western Counties status as they overcame a lively Kingsbridge outfit. In conditions that belied flowing rugby, both sides produced a good contest that kept supporters on edge until the final whistle.Withycombe, with the Raleigh Park slope in their favour, were first to show. Jerome McMurray, returning at stand-off, showed a clean pair of heels to the Kingsbridge defence with an audacious break that was stopped just short of the line. Withycombe kept the pressure on and after 10 minutes went in front with a McMurray penalty.From the restart, Kingsbridge started to show they had some speedsters and the Withycombe back line had to be on their mettle with some good defensive work. Withies increased their lead on 20 minutes when McMurray changed the direction of the play and fed winger Jimmy Holman, who beat three men to score. Inexplicably, McMurray fluffed the conversion attempt almost in front of the posts. Kingsbridge began to dominate proceedings, mainly due to a catalogue of Withycombe errors, when the ball was lost in the tackle or turned over by the home side. In the last minute of the half, Withies were made to pay for their mistake when ball lost at a turnover was run back by Kings and a clever chip and chase saw scrum-half Matt Ryan score a try. Greg Newman converted.The second half was largely dominated by Withycombe, but Kingsbridge always looked dangerous on the break. With the wind starting to get stronger, both sides were making mistakes and the game cried out for a more up-the-jumper-and-drive approach. Withycombe started to adopt this and were perhaps a little guilty of not releasing quick ball when chances were on. Having said that, Kingsbridge were finding it difficult to get into Withycombe territory.With the game entering the final quarter, Withycombe seemed to have sewn up the contest when Richard Blyth was driven over, but the referee was unsighted and a five-metre scrum was awarded. Pressure told and hooker Sam Bray picked and drove over in Clubhouse Corner. McMurray failed with his conversion kick.With only five minutes remaining, and needing a converted score, Kingsbridge threw everything at Withycombe.To make thing worse for the home side, Nathan Sorenson was sin binned. Withycombe battled vainly to get their hands on the ball. It was only after 82 minutes that they were able to celebrate when the referee ended the proceedings.Withies do not have a game until the end of March when they travel to Hayle, the crunch game of the season. If you are a Withycombe supporter put March 29 in your diary for the game is crucial to Withycombe's Western Counties survival.Taunton 17pts, Exmouth 22South West Two WestTaunton's impressive Hyde Park ground has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Cockles. With Exmouth needing three wins from four remaining games the pressure in the race for promotion started here. The ingredients for a challenging game were highlighted by the Taunton president's programme notes, which said how desperate they were to get back to winning ways after their disappointing - and shock away loss - to St Mary's the previous week. Taunton knew Exmouth or Barnstaple had to slip up to keep them in the race but this was not to be their day.The game both sets of players served up for spectators was probably as exciting as it gets. Exmouth's second-half performance showed they were up for the challenge. The game got under way at a hectic rate and during the first five minutes both Taunton and Exmouth could have scored. Garry Hooper and Ollie Turton both went close for the Cockles. On ten minutes the nerves were beginning to show and Exmouth put pressure on themselves with a poor kick out of the hands which gifted the ball to Taunton flyer Dave Webber. Only a crunching tackle by Paul Morgan prevented an early score.The Taunton winger was penalised for holding on and, when the penalty was advanced ten metres by the referee, the Cockles should have snatched the initiative, but another poor kick failed to find touch. The Exmouth scrum was under a bit of pressure at this stage and when they lost a ball against the head near halfway, Taunton nearly punished them.Taunton were penalised for holding, but the warning signs were there. Taunton started to exert some control in the second quarter and should have gone ahead after 25 minutes when a break by their centre was undone when he took on the Exmouth defence, where converted centre Seb Phelps was dominant, rather than pass to one of four players who had the line within sight.With 27 minutes played another turnover of an Exmouth scrum, this time on their own 22, finally produced a Taunton score. Quick ball found winger Ben Rudkin, who ran in for an unconverted try.At this point Tony Emmins who, with Ben Boswell and Chris Strong in the back row had tackled everything that moved, had to leave the field to be replaced by Andrew Smith. Following the restart Taunton were back on the attack again and within five minutes only a forward pass prevented another score.The pressure was now really on. When, minutes later, the Exmouth scrum was turned over again Webber went over for Taunton's second try. Stuart Lowe was now on the field for the injured Martin Westaway and for the remaining five minutes until the break Exmouth played in the Taunton half. Richard Cadywould was unlucky with a drop-goal that cannoned off a post and, moments later, with a penalty that sailed past the upright. Tight-head prop Sean Cooper joined the fray at half time and within minutes a break by Hooper nearly put Jack Downie away. The winger was hauled into touch just short of the line.Exmouth were now taking a bit more control and clean ball from their line-out allowed Richard Cadywould the space to pop over a drop-goal. The Cockles were back in the game.After 15 minutes, Phelps charged down a kick by the Taunton fly-half, Paul Morgan darted after the ball and beat everyone to the touchdown. Richard Cadywould kicked the conversion and Exmouth were on equal terms. It was now a transformation and Taunton were making all sorts of mistakes due to the pressure and their pack was beginning to tire.With 17 minutes played a driving maul from the Taunton 22 took Exmouth within striking distance. When the ball got to Downie he shrugged off a number of tacklers to score wide out.Cadywould missed the conversion but Exmouth had taken the lead for the first time.Taunton tried to get some momentum going but the Exmouth defence was paramount.On 30 minutes, Taunton messed up a scrum near their own line and Hooper snapped up the ball and went over. Cadywould's conversion took the score to 22-10 in Exmouth's favour. For the final 10 minutes Taunton came back at Exmouth and No 10 Matt Ayres gained some consolation when he converted his own try.The Cockles' defence throughout the game and their finishing in the second half were just a bit too much for the Somerset side.Exmouth 43pts, Honiton 0 FULL marks to Honiton just for turning up with a below-strength side.The Exmouth forwards maintained control throughout. Following an early drive, Ben Waistell was first to cross for a try with Shaun Fayter successfully adding the conversion.The backs produced a good handling move from a scrum that saw Archie O'Connell score the first of two tries. Fayter converted off the crossbar.O'Connell's second try was straight off the training ground. A chip over the top by Joe Parkin saw him win the race to ground the ball. Fayter's conversion went off an upright this time.Nearing half-time, and from a penalty five yards out, Parkin showed his class with a quick tap and go. Fayter's conversion kick hit the woodwork and bounced away.John Parkin might have scored himself, but made sure of a try by passing to Darren Wood, who made it 31-0 at half time.The break saw major changes in the Exmouth side. With the continued determination of Honiton, a much closer game developed. Kev Rodwell opened the scoring in the second half with an unconverted try following some solid forward play.The game was contested in an excellent spirit and reflected the camaraderie between these players over the past few years.The final score came late on with a popular touchdown for Chris Button. Button is a forward workhorse, always involved in winning ball but rarely on the score-sheet. Fayter converted.The blustery wind made ball handling and kicking a bit of a lottery. However the place kicking by Fayter was precise, using the woodwork effectively. Among the backs Rodwell and Wood shone.The backs' Man of the Match was Rodwell.The forward unit played as one and it was difficult to pick anyone who gave more than the others. Button made another solid contribution and also saw Liam Millman make a break for the line from 40 yards out - only to be tackled on the 22. The deserved forwards' man of the match went to Tom Roberts for the differing contributions he made in each half.This was a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the final games of this campaign, all of which are likely to be close, starting with a tricky visit to Saracens on Saturday.