Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Veor 16, Withycombe 18
Withycombe’s trip to Veor was never expected to be straightforward, and so it proved in a match featuring two dismissals, but both teams ended with 15 players on the field, writes Mike Richards.
Paddy Shaw put Withy ahead with an early penalty before Veor took hold of the match. First they struck with a try under the posts and then they added a brace of penalties that left Withy wondering what had hit them!
Withies kept pushing, kicking into the wind into the bottom corner of an undulating slope, and their endeavour finally paid off just before half-time when captain Neil Williams darted over from the back of a maul. There was just time for a baffling penalty to be given against Dave Richards straight from the kickoff, enraging Withies coach Trevor Harris and allowing Veor to stretch their lead to eight points at the break.
If the first half was a tense, gripping affair it had nothing on the second! Withycombe upped their game in defence and their smart use of the boot ensured that Veor never really looked like scoring. It was no help at the business end though, with Withycombe bashing at the Veor midfield but struggling to convert chances against a very abrasive defence. Swinging arms and punches were thrown and several times it came close to kicking right off, but Withycombe stayed focused on the job at hand.
The same could not be said for the travelling support, unfortunately, with John Perkins earning the first of the game’s sending’s-off. Perkins was ordered from the ground for an off-colour remark despite his protestations of free citizenship, and continued his unique support from outside the fence!
A Paddy Shaw penalty brought Withycombe within touching distance, setting up a fascinating final ten minutes. The pattern stayed much the same, Veor scuppering the Withycombe attacks at the breakdown in the final third, until a scrum penalty was taken quickly by Mike Richards, with ball thrown wide from the midfield ruck and Ben Mardle crashed over in the corner with minutes remaining.
Paddy Shaw then slotted the difficult looking conversion to the delight of the small but determined band of Withycombe supporters.
Withycombe then ran the clock out to record their eighth straight victory, but not before a cynical action by a home player that left prop Sam Manning with a painful mouth!
John Perkins perhaps said it best when he shouted from the top of the fence that “justice had been done”; the thread bare team that Withycombe took down showed a remarkable amount of heart to win in such trying circumstances, and special thanks goes to Marc Briggs for hauling himself out of retirement to do his bit in the trenches.
Withycombe have the nucleus of a very promising team here: with a bit of luck they may finish fourth after an inauspicious start to the season. With a bit of recruitment and a full-time second team, who knows where they might be in the table come this time next year.
Withycombe: Manning, D Richards, Gibbons, Brambles, J Perkins, Parry, Tuckett, M Richards, Williams, Shaw, Mardle, Morris, Tanton, Steer, Briggs. Tries: Williams, Mardle. Cons: Shaw. Pens: Shaw 2