Withycombe ladies suffer opening day defeat at Exeter Athletic

PUBLISHED: 19:43 09 September 2019

Withycombe ladies player Amy Gillard prepares to handoff a would be Exeter Athletic tackle. Picture WRFC

Withycombe ladies player Amy Gillard prepares to handoff a would be Exeter Athletic tackle. Picture WRFC

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Withycombe ladies went down 56-5 when they travelled to Exeter Athletic ladies who are the new ladies team at Exeter Chiefs.

Withy ladies' Phoebe Pretty-MacGrath secures lineout possessionin the meeting with Exeter Athletic. Picture WRFCWithy ladies' Phoebe Pretty-MacGrath secures lineout possessionin the meeting with Exeter Athletic. Picture WRFC

With the opposition not having sufficient numbers a 12-a-side match was played but, unfortunately for Withycombe, with them being forward dominant this gave the home team a big advantage from the outset!

With both teams showing early season rustiness, the first five minutes were scrappy with several knock-ons and turnovers.

However, once Athletic's backs got the ball they were able to make inroads through a slower Withies' defence.

Tries came at regular intervals in the first half, but not without some stubborn resistance, particularly in the latter stages.

Tanya Pugsley had some ferocious clear-outs and along with forward of the match Phoebe Pretty-McGrath, Sian Williams and Amy Gillard held the defensive line together.

Withy fielded three new players fresh to rugby, as well as welcoming back some old faithfuls from injuries and retirement.

Emma Patch, Carys Flain and Leah Delling pulled on the green and black shirt for the first time and gave good accounts of themselves, whilst Dee Travers played after a two-year hiatus and it was as if she had never been away! Mentions should also be given to Carol Glover and Molly Tregedeon who moved from the back row of the scrum to centres with only 30 minutes warning!

The second half saw a more cohesive unit from the Withies. From the restart Gillard pounced on uncertainty from the receiver and this set up a series of phases.

Pugsley was able to pick up from the base of the ruck and drive over from two yards out to open Withies' account. Back of the match KC Williams used her electrifying pace to make several line breaks and her last 40 metre run saw her hauled down agonisingly short.

Despite the defeat there was no shame in the loss and gave valuable game time to the ladies at the start of a long season.

With several players retiring or moving on at the end of last year it creates opportunities for new recruits to step up to the plate.

Training is on Wednesday evenings from 7-8.30pm at Raleigh Park.

The next match is this coming Sunday (September 15) when Withy host Bideford ladies (2.30pm).

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