Withycombe serve up best to date this term with success in Cornwall
PUBLISHED: 11:03 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:03 18 April 2013
Cornish Pirates Amateurs 12, Withycombe 20
Withycombe put in their finest away performance of the season at the Mennaye Field on Saturday having travelled down the night before.
Steeled by a cultured night in Camborne, the visitors planted a green and black flag in Cornish turf for the first time this season at the seventh time of asking.
After starting miserably the majority of the time, Withycombe came out all guns blazing. A one-handed lineout take gave the backs front foot ball, Danny Sansom picking the ball off his toes and slicing through the Pirates defence with a coruscating run and leaving the full back for dead as he raced over to open the scoring. Jack Pugsley’s increasingly reliable boot made it 7-0. Withycombe’s mobile pack were getting the better of their lumpy opponents in the tight and, more tellingly, in the loose. Quick ball meant Mike Symons at scrum half could make the most of his considerable pace and it was his break down the left of the field that fed John Parkin, whose educated feet jinked this way and that, before setting up a switch with Jack Pugsley. Pugsley’s straightened line and powerful running strained the defence to breaking point and he converted his own try from under the posts. More Withycombe pressure gave Pugsley a penalty kick at goal and the visitors were cruising at 17-0.
The last five minutes of the first stanza belonged to the Pirates though, as Withycombe’s discipline deserted them. The Pirates’ pick and go game left little to the imagination, but proved effective as Withycombe infringed again and again. The Pirates scored just before half time to make it 17-7 at the break.
The early pressure in the second half came from Withycombe as they looked to put the game out of sight; scores were becoming hard to come by in the worsening conditions. Mike Richards was unlucky not be awarded a try after taking several defenders over the line with him and grounding the ball and grounding the ball somewhere amongst the heap. Pugsley kicked another penalty from the ensuing play as Withy snatched the points on offer.
The effects of a long season started to show on Withycombe’s reserves, injuries to Dave Richards, Matt Brambles, Danny Sansom and others meaning that the interchange cards got plenty of use. The Pirates used the disarray to their advantage, rumbling up the field and making Withycombe infringe again with the pick and go, before a freak spinal injury to the Pirates scrum half and captain Ashley Weston meant the game was halted for over twenty minutes while an ambulance was called. Weston thankfully made a full recovery by the following day. The sin-binning of Jack Pugsley shortly after the resumption of play made scoring something of an inevitability for the Pirates, though the conversion was missed to leave a crucial eight-point gap.
Both sides attempted to play rugby but come the end the ball became something of a liability and Withycombe’s smart tactical kicking and composure under pressure meant they stuck it out for a third win in a row. After a fallow middle third to the season, Withycombe’s fortunes have picked up recently; the second XV also won on Saturday, beating Totnes 51-5 at home, and they, like the first team, will be chasing a fifth place finish when they go to Crediton on Saturday.