Withycombe regain the Oliver Marsden Trophy

PUBLISHED: 11:03 01 May 2014

Withycombe 33, Totnes 26

Withycombe and Totnes provided a spectacle of rugby to cap off their respective seasons and celebrate the life of former player Ollie Marsden on Sunday at Raleigh Park, writes Mike Richards.

Ollie, just 21, collapsed at a training session in Totnes in 2008 and could not be revived. He played for Withycombe while a student at Rolle College and had been a popular member of both clubs. Since then the clubs have met annually to contest the memorial trophy and raise money for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Withycombe lost the fixture for the first time last year in a very one-sided contest at Totnes, a repeat of which the hosts were understandably keen to avoid!

Withycombe flew out of the blocks and peppered the Totnes line with attack after attack, but it wasn’t until Mike Richards worked a hole before offloading to Joe Parkin that the scoring commenced, Parkin racing over from 30 metres out. Minutes later Leo Hood had the opportunity to double the advantage but dropped the ball with the tryline begging.

In spite of the conditions, the home side looked most dangerous when they moved the ball quickly. A few quick recycles opened up the space down the left flank and Joe Parkin hacked ahead with Lee Tanton winning the foot race to dive on the ball in the in-goal area. Kevin Rodwell was next to score as he showed his pace and power away down the left flank, before circling back round under the posts.

Totnes got a try of their own, but Withycombe had the final word in the first half as Leo Hood showed off his soccer skills as Totnes again failed to deal with a kick, before Hood was held back and Chris Gibbons cut the unlikeliest of figures diving on the loose ball to score in his last game before departing to Australia.

With the score at 28-7, the game looked won, but Totnes fought their way back into it, no doubt aided by Withycombe’s exploits with a visiting touring side the previous day! After two well-worked tries and Withycombe’s unwillingness to put pace into the game, the home side didn’t look like scoring for much of the second half. That was until Richards and Parkin again combined for a score. A quick tap taken deep in the Withycombe half put the defence on the back foot and no one was catching Parkin once he got in behind the visitors defence. After his spotless first half from the tee, Tanton struggled kicking uphill and missed the ensuing conversion attempt to keep Totnes within two scores.

They got back one try to put themselves within touching distance, but it was too little too late, and Withycombe held on as normal service was resumed in the Marsden Memorial game.

On the day, £250 was raised for the charity and the game was played in great spirit. Long may the tradition continue!

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