Strong defence the key as Withy chalk up sixth successive league victory

PUBLISHED: 10:56 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 28 October 2019

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2808. Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2808. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

The Withy defence was of the highest order as the table-toppers overcame second-placed Tamar Saracens in a close contest at Raleigh Park on a soggy Saturday in late October.

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2824. Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2824. Picture: Terry Ife

Given the conditions and the nature of their last-gaps try success the week before in Exeter, Withy went into the top-of-the-table contest knowing a strong start was required and that is precisely what they did!

From the kick-off the ball was kicked to the corner in the hope of an early catch-and-drive try in Clubhouse Corner. However, the Tamar Saracens, who pitched up in East Devon sporting a 100 per cent start to their league season, defended well to deny the home side an immediate try.

Withy enjoyed plenty of the ball and territorial advantage in the early stages and all this helped to a 12th minute penalty that Glenn Channing sent between the posts in a degree of comfort.

There followed a period of even-steven play with a lot of phases of in the middle of the pitch as both team's defences stood strong, not allowing much territorial gain for either side.

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2804. Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2804. Picture: Terry Ife

With around half an hour gone and in an attempt to break the stalemate, the sides switched tactics to play the aerial game, enjoying a little 'kick-tennis'. The gusting wind down the pitch gave the visitors the slight edge with the boot, with each kick gaining a little ground towards the Brook End of Raleigh Park. However, the Withy defence was equal to the challenge and half-time arrived with the only score of the half being that 12th minute Channing penalty.

After the break, playing with the advantage of the slope, Withy began to slowly impose themselves on the contest and pin the visitors back. However, the away defence was also good and it was very difficult for Withy to release the breaks and get beyond the Saracens back line.

After an hour of closely contested rugby another penalty opportunity was presented to Channing and again he rifled the ball between the upright to make it 6-0.

Saracens responded well, but once again the home defence did its work efficiently. Inside the final 10 minutes, a lapse of discipline in the ruck awarded Sarries a string of penalties, with each one heading to touch, slowly making ground towards the home try line until a line-out on hWithy was stolen by the home side and the lines were cleared once again, much to the relief of the home crowd.

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2803. Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2803. Picture: Terry Ife

It was tense through to the final whistle with the visitors knowing a converted try would snatch, for them, victory from the jaws of defeat.

The referee announced 'the last play' with the visiting side having a scrum and the ball was spun wide, but the winger was swiftly bundled into touch bringing an end to a low scoring, but compelling encounter between two well-matched outfits.

There's no game this coming Saturday (November 2) so Withy will next be in action the following Saturday (November 9) when they travel to face Ilfracombe (2.30pm) in a fixture that will double up with two prizes at stake, league points and a place in the next round of the cup after the tie between the teams earlier this month, was postponed.

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2800. Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2800. Picture: Terry Ife

Withycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2796. Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe at home to Tamar Saracens. Ref exsp 44 19TI 2796. Picture: Terry Ife

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