By Lee Western
spoiler alert - we won the cup !!
The week leading guy to this final couldn't have been anymore weird or stressful. The Head Coach was admitted to Hospital on the Monday (and then released !!) we had a number of injury scares and had to cancel an important training session for the forwards. The weather got hot - only for a thunderstorm to arrive on Saturday afternoon , the only thing missing was some more snow.
It was a warm dry day and we were on after the Plate game, the plate was Ivybridge v Brixham, an uninspiring game with a sadly predictable outcome, there was only one team in it, Ivybridge.
We started well, our new defensive structure was thoroughly examined and held up well to the pressure. Withycombe struck first with an unconverted Harry Bennet try, Tops 0 -Withy 5. There was the expected ebb and flow of two good teams who were determined to play good rugby. Withycombe pressed hard and were looking to steal the ball at every contact and Topsham had to work as a unit to avoid that happening. A break was made on the cricket green side of the pitch which saw daniel Strong fly down the wing and outpace Withy's dangerous fast winger. Luckily Daniel had the resolve to dab the ball down under the posts to make the conversion kick easier. Tops 7 - Withy 5. Game on !!
The score acted like a rallying call for Topsham who then applied pressure on Withy, the game started to turn towards Topsham favour, a penalty kick saw Topsham with a line out on Withycombe's 22 line. The line out went like a dream - Billy Davies taking the ball back from the line out and attacked at the tail of the line out, Withy were surprised to see the hooker attacking and took a little while to react - Billy used all of his momentum and got himself over the line. A great try from the training paddock. The conversion was a tough ask Tops 12 - Withy 5. Things were looking good for Topsham.
After half time Topsham were hungry to score first and continue building the pressure. however within an 8 minute period Withy scored two unconverted tries- Tops 12 - Withy 15. The remains of the half had Topsham applying more and more pressure - our only enemy, the time which we were running out of. We attacked again down the cricket green side of the pitch but ended up losing possession and in the melee that followed Withy had a line out, not far from their line and with the clock ticking silently down with each agonising sweep of the hand. The wily Withy Hooker took ages to put the ball in it seemed that all that was needed was for Withy to kick the ball over the touch line and queue their celebrations...however Topsham had one last hurrah - the ball was stolen followed by a big drive towards the try line - a desperate withy defence was unsure how to defend the resulting ruck - Henry Joy, saw the opportunity , scooped the ball majestically and with the Team GB diving management clamouring for his phone number , dove over the try line -score !! Tops 17 -Withy 15. The conversion was another tall order which saw the final score Topsham 17 - Withy 15.
Withycombe were great opposition. They were tough, tackled well were amazingly quick to react and were dangerous in the contact areas with them able to steal our ball too easily and too often. What they didn't have was Topsham's resolve and newly found playing confidence. What a great game -a really good game for a final with both sets of lads throwing the kitchen sink at each other seeing who blinked first. The result was the right result (But I would say that !!) I think it is likely to be a newer heightened rivalry between these two East Devon teams...bring it on !!!
A great day with the whole age group, in the match day squad or not all playing an important part and everyone should be proud.I know the final score section reads 18-15 to Topsham but I took that from the Withycome RFC Facebook site and well, lets face it it sounds better !! my maths makes it 17-15.