Withycombe march into South West Divisional final of the RFU Senior Vase

PUBLISHED: 08:44 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 08:44 19 February 2015

Cup match action between Withycombe and Gordano at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Ref exsp 7708-08-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Cup match action between Withycombe and Gordano at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Ref exsp 7708-08-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Withycombe travel to Swindon College Old Boys on March 14, after defeating Gordano 17-10 in the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Southern Counties Senior Vase final in what proved to be a bruising encounter at Raleigh Park.

Cup match action between Withycombe and Gordano at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Ref exsp 7710-08-15SH. Picture: Simon HornCup match action between Withycombe and Gordano at Raleigh Park on Saturday. Ref exsp 7710-08-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Gordano pitched up in East Devon as Somerset Premier League table-toppers and, supported by two coach loads of followers, must have arrived for the game with plenty of confidence.

However, on the day it was the formidable Withycombe defence that saw the home side to another big cup date next month.

Withy had the better of the early exchanges and, after missing a third minute penalty, three collapsed scrums in quick succession close to the Gordano line, had the match official marching under the posts to award a penalty try and Withy were seven points to the good!

The next hour was hard graft! Both sides gave their all, trading push for push, tackle for tackle and blow for blow. Despite the score board not ticking over the game was not short on drama – and excitement!

Withycombe were pinned in their own half for most of the remainder of the first half as Gordano’s big forwards came time and again at the solid Withy back line in which Euegene Badenhorst was a man mountain!

The visitors missed a couple of gilt edged penalty kicks, but that was as close as they came to breaching the seemingly impregnable Withy defence.

The second half picked up where the first left off, with the sticky conditions dictating the style of play. Gordano managed the conditions better than Withycombe on balance, but lacked a finishing edge, whilst Withycombe showed flashes of brilliance with the ball which were sadly all too short-lived as uncharacteristic knock-ons cut short an ambitious offload game.

Eventually the home side got to grips with the conditions and began to press deeper into Gordano territory.

Glen Channing was wide of the mark with a couple of penalty attempts before, on 70 minutes, a second try was scored.

It was the Withy forwards who did the work as the ball was driven towards the line prior to Romanian flanker Andrei Toma crashing over, much to the joy of a large, and noisy, home support.

Gordano hit back almost immediately, but missed the conversion and that was crucial as it left them needing to score twice in the final seven minutes to break Withy hearts!

With three minutes left a Channing penalty sailed between the posts and even a last minute second try for the visitors could not dampen the enthusiasm at the final whistle from Withy players and supporters alike.

Now for the South West Divisional final of the Senior Vase and that March 14 trip to Swindon.

Before the next cup encounter there’s work to be done in the league and on Saturday Withy entertain Pirates Amateurs who they defeated 15-10 when the sides met in Cornwall earlier in the season.

Withycombe: Jack Pugsley, Andy Matchett, Dave Passmore, Joe Parkin, Terry Mears, Glenn Channing, John Parkin, Chris Gibbons, Dave Richards, Liam Cullen, Jon Axon, Tim Wills, Andrei Toma, Eugene Badenhorst, Mike Richards. Reps: Sam Manning, Ben Clark, Connor Gilby, Danny Parry, Kev Rodwell, Will Hockin, Tom Steer.

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