WITHYCOMBE 24 - North Tawton 6

IS the pitch playable or not? Shall we play on it or not? That was the main question being asked by all right up to kick off last Saturday (December 17) at Withycombe, but the ref made the call and we played. 

The game got underway on a hard unforgiving surface that soon turned muddy and resulted in the ref being very quick on the whistle, giving players as much protection as he could.

It soon became apparent that the hosts were going to be a handfull in the scrum, giving them a better platform to play away from and with their quick lines into the tackle working well.

It was clear that North Tawton were going to have their work cut out. Having said that, Tawton scored the first points of the afternoon, a penalty eight minutes in, 0-3.

Unfortunately, almost from the restart, Withycombe responded with their first try, the missed kick made it 5-3.

We then got into a battle of the forwards, some hard tackles going in from both sides.

The North Tawton backs were struggling to get any worthwhile ball to work with, being closed down, but it has to be said that there was some dubious rucking from the home team that the ref did not seem to worry about.

It wasn’t too long before Withycombe got their second try, another missed kick, 10-3.

A big blow to the Tawts was Matty Dennis leaving the field with a leg injury.

It mean’t that the captain went back to No. 12 and Ryan Gross took up the No. 9 role.

A penalty for Tawton, just before the half-time whistle, gave us 10-6.

By hook or by crook, the Tawts were still in this. It wasn’t pretty to watch, but revenge for the home loss against this team could be a possibility.

The second half got underway and Withycombe struck first, a try with conversion, 17-6.

North Tawton tried to up the tempo and intensity but, try as they did, they could not find a way past the strong Withycombe defence who, at one stage, were down to 13 players on the field due to two yellow cards.

A bit of niggle creeping in due to North Tawton’s direct approach maybe?

The clock ticked down and it was clear that both side had found playing on a hard slippery pitch hard work.

The last play of the game saw Withycombe get their bonus point, the try kick added and the final score, 24-6.

This match is probably one to forget from the Tawts point of view.

Man of the match goes to James Miller for his relentless tackling. 

I suspect North Tawton go into the Christmas break with several of their squad needing to rest up and regroup and, hopefully, a few of the long-term injured can come back into the fold.

Next game is home on January 7, 2023. 

Everyone from North Tawton RFC wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Chris Phare