Withy Under-14s into Devon Cup final after seeing off Newton Abbot

PUBLISHED: 13:35 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:35 01 March 2018

Withycombe Under-15 action from the meeting with Saracens

Withycombe Under-15 action from the meeting with Saracens

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Withycombe Under-14s booked their place in this season’s Devon Cup final when they defeated Newton Abbot 14-0 in the semi-final.

This contest proved to be a great advert for youth rugby with both teams playing on the front foot throughout, displaying enterprising attack and honest, disciplined defending watched by a large crowd at a sun-kissed, but chilly Raleigh Park.

From the kick-off it was Newton Abbot who looked to exert early pressure with their large, bulky pack leading the charge! They bagged an early turnover, and drove forward, but the Withy defence was equal to the threat and, whenever the chance presented itself, the ball was fed out wide to their ever-dangerous backs.

Newton had clearly done their homework, and they defended well, as Withy pressed. That forced some early, uncharacteristic, Withy backline errors and the game remained tight and nervy.

The Withy pack was holding their own, and when they did move the ball at pace they looked to be the more threatening.

Indeed, it was the young green and blacks who scored first. The forwards secured first phase ball and the ball was shipped wide.

Centre Jude Baker-Hands stepped around his opposite number near the halfway line, and won the race to the line, dotting down under the posts and winger Harry Bennett slotted the conversion.

Newton continued to press, again keeping the play tight and using their strike runners to drive at the heart of the Withy defence.

Withy defended strongly and turned over a number of Newton’s plays, and it was from one such turnover that the ball was moved wide to Bennett, who showed his strength, handing off his marker and racing some 50 metres to score under the posts; he converted his own try to take Withy into the break with a 14-0 lead. The second half was no less entertaining. Newton kept their power game going with Withy defending heroically, and Newton, to their credit, also defended well against any Withy attacks.

Newton kept the ball for large periods, but could not seem topenetrate the resolute defence, in which there were some notable big tackles carried out by both Brad Worthington and Joe Dale which forced the opposition to start throwing the ball wide. Winger Murphy Boltrukiewicz was called into action to make some excellent big tackles, and Withy cleared their lines each time they were threatened.

Newton went back to their forwards with some driving mauls. However, time after time the Withy pack held them up, preventing any progress.

As Newton tired, Withy forced a turnover. They got the ball to Bennett, who cleverly chipped over his man, deep into the Newton half. The ball was gathered near the Newton line and they just managed to clear their lines before the full-time whistle was blown.

The whole Withy pack shone on the day; they pushed their larger opponents back in the scrum and did not let Newton get their forward game going.

Second rows Dale and Erin Asselman supported the back row of Max Wilkinson, Olly Willis and James Griffin, who harried, hassled and frustrated Newton for the whole game.

Outside, Bennett and Baker-Hands were their usual attacking threat, and centre Alfie Gillard, returning after a lengthy spell out with injuries, showed why he has been missed, with some powerful runs.

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