Pugsley''s late kick sees Withycombhe to OPM victory

PUBLISHED: 15:09 21 November 2012

Action between Withycombe and OPM at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exsp 0852-47-12SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Action between Withycombe and OPM at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exsp 0852-47-12SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Archant

Withycombe 23, OPM 22

Withycombe returned to winning ways with a hard-fought victory against a tenacious OPM side.

Following a string of disastrous starts, Withycombe’s preparation was focused on increased physicality in the opening exchanges, and it showed.

Playing down the slope, Jack Pugsley slotted an early penalty only to turn villain shortly afterwards, throwing an intercepted pass that was returned for a try.

The OPM scrum looked as though it might cause Withycombe some problems; they had bulk in quantities that Withycombe can only dream of.

Despite this, the home side proved stronger in the scrummage and in the lineouts, good movement and Dave Richards’ pinpoint throwing ensured that the set piece remained a Withycombe stronghold.

Withy were next to score with a well-controlled lineout drive from short range, Mike Richards being the beneficiary. Jack Pugsley added the extras, which were to later prove vital.

OPM then had the better of the play, kicking a penalty and missing another, until John Parkin took a quick tap at a penalty and jinked over from his own half. With both scrum halves producing tries from nothing, the selection committee will have the best kind of headache this week.

Pugsley converted to make it 17-8 at the half.

OPM had grand ideas about keeping Withycombe in the “Brook End” for the second half, little did they know that Clubhouse Corner is a Withy second half specialty.

Despite Withy’s lack of finesse in the kicking game, they had the better of the play in the early stages of the second half.

Pugsley kicked another penalty and just as Withycombe seemed primed to deliver the knockout blow, a turnover in the OPM 22 allowed the visitors to break, their electric backs finishing the job as Danny Sansom was left with a fraction too much ground to cover.

The OPM tails were up now, and perhaps jitters got the better of the home side, some uncharacteristic errors granting OPM good field position before Withycombe’s frailties around the fringes of the ruck were exposed again as a series of pick-and-go drives from the massive OPM pack finally yielded a try. The conversion slotted, Withy came from under their posts knowing that a penalty kick was all that was needed, but they had only two minutes in which to obtain it/

After a knock on at the restart, an inspired call at scrum time gave Withycombe a free kick and after driving for field position, the offside OPM backline gave Withycombe a penalty opportunity just wide of the posts on the 22.

Pugsley stepped up and bisected the posts to the tune of the final whistle.

They may not win every week, but Withycombe seem to have learned how to edge out the close ones.

In a game featuring its fair share of errors, Withycombe produced their most mature two minutes of the season to date when it really mattered.

On Saturday the 1st XV travel to Wessex whilst the 2nd XV have a home match.

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