On a perfect day for rugby Withycombe hosted local rivals Exmouth at Raleigh Park. With so many of the opposing players being classmates as well it was sure to have some extra spice in the quest for bragging rights come Monday.
It was Exmouth who came out of the blocks fastest and very quickly took a commanding lead - Withy's tackling was AWOL and Exmouth took full advantage racking up several unanswered tries. Withy seemed to have some sort of hangover and clearly weren't firing - the intensity wasn't really there at the breakdown from Withy and it was all too easy for Exmouth to steal the ball and move it wide - running in 5 unanswered tries before the whistle.
Second quarter saw Withy improve slightly - even venturing into the Exmouth half for a little bit of territory. However, soon enough the Exmouth backline started slipping through the gaps, and the scoring continued - going over 3 times in the second quarter.
A bit of a pep talk at half was needed - and Exmouth could again bring on Fresh legs - but Withy stuck to their task well. A good chase from the kickoff saw some pressure build on the Exmouth 22 yard line for Charlie and Evan to combine to make gains up to their try line. Quick ball gave Evan the opportunity to exploit the gap in the Exmouth defence and Withy finally got on the scoreboard.
Exmouth opted to receive, and Withy again put them under pressure, however gaps in our defensive line allowed Exmouth to break through and run in a long range effort to equal the score. Withy seemed to have a bit more confidence and started to run the ball nicely - making good ground into the Exmouth half. Then Ryan found himself in some space, beat a couple of defenders to sprint in for another score before the whistle went. 2 - 1 to Withy in the 3rd quarter.
The final quarter saw more fresh legs for Exmouth come on and dominate the territory. Withy started to lag as a couple of injuries now meant they were at the limit. Tackling again seemed to lapse, and the intensity dropped again. Quickly Exmouth ran in a couple of tries by moving the ball out wide - and a further score from Exmouth at the end saw the final quarter finish 3 - 0 Exmouth.
All in all the boys know that they didn't really demonstrate how well we all know they can play - and the focus is to build throughout the season with plenty of game time, teamwork, and coaching this "tough day at the office" will be a rare thing. Thank you to Simon and the Exmouth team for a great match played in the right spirit. We look forward to the return fixture for sure....
Well done boys for sticking to the task, and here's to going again next week - away at Teignmouth (exact details TBC).