Withycombe's unbeaten run ended in Cornwall
PUBLISHED: 20:33 19 November 2014 | UPDATED: 20:33 19 November 2014
Withycombe's 14-game winning run was ended in Cornwall where they fell to a narrow two-point 37-35 defeat to hosts Saltash.
Withy did not make the best of starts and, after some tight early exchanges, fell behind to a 23rd minute try and, at this stage, the visitors looked rattled.
They dug deep and battled their way back into the contest with the forwards at the forefront of things, battling the home side to get Withy going forward. Once again the powerful scrum that has been a feature of this season’s success to date, came to the fore and a pushover try got them back into the contest.
More of the same put Withy ahead by half-time as they exacted a measure of control on proceeding. The line-out drive was foiled, but the pick-and-go move that followed opened the door for Andrei Toma to mark his return to first team rugby with the all important late first half score.
With Danny Sansom sent to the sin bin five minutes before half-time, the first five minutes of the second half would always be a challenge for Withycombe, but no one expected what came next!
Saltash all but put the game to bed inside a dozen early second half minutes as they launched a period of all-out attack, scoring three long range tries and a penalty to go from 14-10 down to 32-14 up!
Having lost the control that brought them back into game in the first half, the visitors regained some composure and a try from Jon Axon off a line-out drive helped to settle some nerves Withycombe now trailed by 11 points with 24 minutes still to go. Joe Parkin was sent to the sin bin on 60 minutes, but Withycombe still managed another pushover try to bring themselves within four points with eight minutes to play.
Yet another long range try from Saltash’s back line might have killed Withycombe spirits two years ago, and it certainly created some noise around the clubhouse, but Withy weren’t quite done yet!
Mike Richards’ solo effort from 35 metres out was converted by Glenn Channing to leave Withycombe two points adrift and, had the Withy fly half not been hit with a late tackle just a minute into the game, a kickable penalty with 90 seconds on the clock might have given extended Withycombe’s unbeaten run.
Instead they kicked for the corner, where a knock on five metres out was not enough to deter them. After turning over the scrum, a third pushover try was too much to ask and the final whistle blew much to the joy of the home faithful.
The result means Saltash leapfrog Withycombe at the top of the league table on points difference. The Raleigh Park boys must now pick themselves up and send a strong message to the league when Hayle come to visit this Saturday.
Withycombe: Jack Pugsley, Danny Sansom, Aaron Conway, Joe Parkin (YC), Sam Conway, Glenn Channing, John Parkin, Phil Sluman, Dave Richards, Liam Cullen, Jon Axon, Dave Sims, Andrei Toma, Simon Tozer, Mike Richards. Reps: Max Cooke, Richard Hodges, Adam Morris.