EAGLES LOSE GROUND IN BATTLE FOR THIRD SPOT:
Withycombe 15, Falmouth Eagles 7
With Exeter University and Tiverton all but guaranteed promotion from the Tribute Cornwall and Devon League, a new battle is developing as only three points separate the three teams, Crediton, Falmouth Eagles and Withycombe, fighting for third place, reports Tom Sandberg.
On Saturday, fourth clashed with fifth at Raleigh Park in a rearranged fixture as the Eagles took on Withycombe.
Falmouth battled against the elements, a pitch that in places resembled an ice rink and a strong home pack in a hotly contested match as they fell to a 15-7 defeat.
The Eagles, buoyed by recent victories against struggling Veor and Newquay knew a tough game was ahead and it got even tougher as they fell behind in the first five minutes.
Withycombe won a line-out five meters out and pressure from their forwards allowed Mike Richards to ground the ball.
The way that Withycombe so easily pushed themselves over the line may have set alarm bells ringing for Phil Angove and the travelling support as they hoped Withycombe's dominance in the pack was just an early blip.
The Eagles fought back and had a period of pressure for the next 15 minutes as they kicked to the corners and looked to push on and drive closer to the try line.
The drives, however, did not have their regular effect as the Withycombe pack held them up and wouldn't let the Eagles move forward.
The Withycombe 22 began to deteriorate making it harder for the Eagles to get a good footing and the pressure finally petered out into nothing as Withycombe won a lineout and cleared their lines.
Withycombe made their way up the pitch and won a scrum five metres out. The Falmouth pack dug deep against what appeared to be a slightly superior pack.
With the scrum going nowhere Withycombe passed the ball through their backs across the width of the pitch to Sam Conway who dived over for their second try to put them 10-0 up.
Falmouth came back fighting, but they couldn't find a breakthrough as the Withycombe 22 turned into an ice rink, making running, scrumming and driving very difficult for the Eagles.
The Eagles hadn't been poor during the first half, they had battled hard, got themselves into position and had created themselves opportunities, but unfortunately they had been unable to take any of them and as such went into half time empty handed, trailing by ten points.
Falmouth came out fighting and again dominated the first five minutes of the second half, winning a penalty which Justyn Irons kicked for the corner and got the Eagles three metres from the line. From the lineout Falmouth drove for the line but the home forwards held firm, forcing the Eagles to knock on inches from the line.
The ball was cleared but again Falmouth kept the pressure on and for almost 20 minutes went through the phases but they didn't have that last little spark to carry them over.
And it was Falmouth's best chance that also proved to be the nail in their coffin.
Another attack started well and the ball was played wide into the Withycombe 22. The ball was played out by captain Tony Whittle to wing Josh Symons but he was unable to claim a pass that had a high percentage of ending in a try. Withycombe capitalised and broke rushing the ball upfield, allowing Adam Morris to score.
This put the game a little further out of reach, from being a converted try and penalty down, the Eagles were now two converted tries and penalty away.
The Eagles didn't give up and continued to put pressure on the Withycombe line and deservedly they broke through. From a five-metre scrum they attacked the line, slowly using their forwards and moving it wide for Ashley Searle to burst through to ground Falmouth's first points, with Irons kicking the conversion.
The wind was in the Eagles' tails as they looked to get more points on the board, but Withycombe picked up their game and kept the Eagles stuck in the middle of the field while launching attacks of their own to get their fourth try and a vital bonus point.
Credit to Falmouth whose defence held strong for the last 15 minutes, but on the day the best team won, Withycombe's pack proved on this day to be stronger than Falmouth's and managed to make the most of their opportunities when the Eagles couldn't capitalise.
The Eagles should not be disheartened, their lineouts were far superior and on another day the game could have swung their way.
If a pass had not gone astray the Eagles could have been right back in the match at 10-7 and would have had Withycombe under all sorts of pressure, but as it was Withycombe scored themselves and all but ended the game. Saturday's game has shown how tight it is between the three teams battling for third place and it is shaping up to be a real tight but exciting end to the season.
The Eagles face struggling OPMS at home on Saturday.
Falmouth Eagles: Ashley Searle, AJ Geach, Andrew Varker, Tony Whittle, Steve Instance, Tom David, Joel Rose, Simon Bailey, Richard Bray, Justyn Irons, Nick Carne, Nick Winston, Tom Spiller, Dan Hinchliffe, Josh Symons, Reps: Ollie Church, John Baglow, Jake Burt.
Scorers: Withycombe: Mike Richards, Sam Conway, Adam Morris. Falmouth: Ashley Searle. Cons: Justyn Irons.
LEADERS FALMOUTH CLAWED BACK BY EAGLES:
White Eagles 1, Falmouth 1
Torrential rain, freezing conditions and team illness put a dampener on Falmouth spirits as they travelled to Tiverton.
The game started well for the visitors as they put sustained pressure on the Eagles goal but several chances were denied by the keeper.
As conditions worsened Falmouth lacked their usual fluidity and the Eagles defence easily snuffed out through balls into the circle.
But the deadlock was broken just before half time as Hudson strode into the circle and managed to find the back of the net.
As the teams, and the sun, emerged for the second half, the Eagles defence refused to be broken with the Falmouth attack wondering what they needed to do to score.
White Eagles refused to lie down and kept pressing but were thwarted by Player of the Match, Megan Cookson.
They were rewarded five minutes before the end when a loose ball fell to their forward who slotted neatly home. And they weathered another late surge of Falmouth attacks to become only the third team to take a point off the league leaders.
Falmouth: Hannah Bowman, Megan Cookson, Terri Barbery-Redd, Rachel Medd, Hanna Royle, Nicola Hinton, Kat Barbery-Redd, Clare Hudson, Amy Figgins, Emily Dunstan, Sam Dunstan, Vic Pryor.
On Saturday Falmouth hope to regain the form which has kept them undefeated this season as they face Plymouth Marjons 2 at Penryn College (10.30am).
Falmouth II 3, CSM II 3:
Falmouth achieved a good 3-3 draw in this friendly, with a little help from goalkeepers June Moore and Kirstie Brown who played a half each for both teams!
This was another good team performance despite the blustery weather and hail shower in the second half.
The score was 1-1 at half time although Falmouth had much more possession they were unable to find their final touch.
CSM were 3-1 up by midway through the second half but Falmouth fought back to earn a well deserved draw.
Well done to Player of the Match, Molly Phillips and to Hannah Whear who both had to move back to help out the defence but still managed to support the midfield really well in attacking moves.
Goal scorers were Emma Bragg, Milly Grant and Amy Shaw.
Team: June Moore, Kirstie Brown, Hannah Whear, Jeanette Coleman, Molly Phillips, Amanda Wills, Emily Darnell, Daisy Allen, Alice Bowman, Amy Shaw, Emma Bragg, Milly Grant, Ella Philpott.
On Saturday Falmouth 2 return to league action, away to leaders Plymouth Marjons 3 at 11am.
FALMOUTH DIG DEEP FOR VICTORY AT ST IVES:
Falmouth U12s v St Ives U12s
With unplayable pitches at Falmouth this return fixture was moved to St Ives, where conditions were more suitable for an expansive game of rugby.
Falmouth got the game under way with the wind at their tails and immediately put St Ives into a defensive mode as they pinned down their hosts and kept them under pressure.
Against the wind St Ives struggled to clear their line but found better reward by keeping it tight and driving up the middle of the field. While this was at least effective once Falmouth regained possession they were soon back on the attack and used the width of the pitch well, stretching the St Ives defence to make good inroads towards the try line.
This eventually reaped its reward when first phase ball from an attacking lineout was spread along the back line for Sam Ahearne to find the gap and the try line to open the scoring. From the restart St Ives pushed Falmouth back to their own line and under pressure. St Ives stole possession and kept the ball tight before releasing it left and squeezing through to bring the scores level and back to stalemate.
Falmouth continued to press and a last ditch tackle, with the try line beckoning, denied Elliot Mier the chance to give Falmouth the lead. The first half continued in this fashion with both sides canceling each other out.
With the wind in St Ives favour they started the second half with a spring in their step but the game remained on a knife edge. Falmouth had a good set piece and strong back line but St Ives edged the loose play and won many turnovers, denying Falmouth the opportunity to generate momentum. Notwithstanding, patient build up by Falmouth created an overlap out wide but Sam Ahearne cut back inside and as the opportunity appeared to have been spurned Sam found himself clear with only the try line in front of him.
However, St Ives again showed their tenacity and brought him down inches from the line and cleared the danger.
St Ives made better use of the wind to clear their lines but Falmouth fielded and returned the ball with interest each time.
The game was played at a high tempo throughout and as fatigue began to set in St Ives were again stretched as the Falmouth backs were determined to find the those elusive openings.
It seemed like a matter of time and sure enough Falmouth attacked again, the ball spun along the line to Jacob Allies who managed to break through the defensive line and put Falmouth into the lead.
The game continued to ebb and flow but neither side could add to the scoring and the final whistle brought relief and respect from both sides in this evenly matched contest.
PENRYN UNDERMINE CAMBORNE:
Camborne U9s 5, Penryn 70
Despite all the problems ground staff have at the moment the Camborne pitch was in good condition, a little soft but firm enough to host two keen U9 teams.
Penryn were basically in charge from start to finish and a good all-round performance was the basic difference between the two teams as all the Penryn players played their part and contributed to the team result, punctuated with some stand out individual performances.
Billy took the outside line to open the scoring. Penryn were a constant threat from the off and Luke can feel unlucky not to cross with several strong runs and it was not long before Gabriel doubled the lead with a similar strong run. Camborne could not get going and Charlie made several excellent tackles, Mathew and Sullivan put in strong runs and meaty tackles and the tenacious Owen scored the next try as he forced a home error on the line and was first to react.
Owen then created a second try for Billy who polished off the first half with two more touchdowns, as well as playing his part in defence with several cover tackles.
At the turnaround Penryn were fully deserving of their 30-0 lead.
The normal full change of players for Penryn going into the second half would produce no let up for Camborne with the prolific George keen to show his pace. Playing down the slope the home team may have felt they had a front foot to run on but their fears were soon confirmed as George took to the wing for his first, with two more for him in quick succession.
The Penryn defence was still holding firm with Joe showing well in this aspect and George also showing his stopping skills. That said out of nothing Camborne were able to put a few phases together and managed what would turn out to be their only score. George followed this with another three as Camborne could not contain him, in fact one of the few that came close was team mate Daniel whose support play was superb and this in other games would keep the momentum going forward. Penryn created space for themselves very well by the likes of Cadan taking several defenders to stop him and Kian was another to benefit as he also crossed the line before fittingly George had the final say.
Penryn: Kian, Billy, Cadan, Owen, Matthew, George, Joe, Luke, Sullivan, Harley, Hugo, Noah, Daniel, Charlie, Ira, Gabriel.
Scorers: George (7), Billy (4), Gabriel, Owen, Kian.
Camborne U10s v Penryn U10s:
Recently, there has been a lot of publicity about teams of mixed ability in mini rugby and the subsequent, perceived lack of competitiveness in games.
If anyone watching this particular match between two teams of mixed ability had the temerity to say that this match was anything other than competitive would have been given short shrift by the watching crowd!
These youngsters were literally tackling each other to the ground with as much force as their bodies could muster, and at times had the watching adults wincing.
The aggression and competitive spirit led to several players of both sides leaving the pitch temporarily through injury in a match that was littered with strong running, hard tackling and some passages of play that belied their tender ages.
At the half time break the teams' respective coaches commented on the ferocity of some of the exchanges, suggesting that the future of the game in Penryn and Camborne is in good hands.
For Penryn, Solomon Littlejohn continued his recent run of try scoring form with another four, Thomas Freeman made a couple of try saving tackles and Benji Roberts was scavenging around the fringes and on one occasion ran the length of the pitch to score.
Jori Bennett and Piran Glasby made some bullocking, ground gaining runs, and Ben Thorpe and Ethan Weaver both crossed the line for well taken tries.
For those that were counting, the final result saw Penryn shade their hosts by 11 tries to nine.
Squad and tries: Matt Badger, Jori Bennett, Liam Creedon, Thomas Freeman (3), Piran Glasby, Solomon Littlejohn (4), Jack Martin, Benji Roberts (2), Ben Thorpe (1), Ethan Weaver (1), Ciaran Young.