THINGS can change very quickly from one week to the next and that was certainly the case on Saturday, February 18.
Following the previous weekend’s tough defeat against Exmouth Seconds and a performance where the players couldn’t find any momentum or cohesion, North Tawton welcomed league rivals South Molton to Taw Meadows.
North Tawton were trailing South Molton by three points in the league, with both clubs fighting it out to avoid the drop so many expected an entertaining game.
From the kick off South Molton were on the front foot, using the windy conditions to keep North Tawton in their own half.
South Molton’s kicking made life difficult for the Tawts with the many clearance kicks not going far with the wind blowing in South Molton’s favour.
However after 10 minutes of constant pressure, North Tawton’s defence was excellent and didn’t allow many carries to break through.
Any attempts to run the ball out of their half were short lived with a few knock ons, but the scrums were holding strong.
After 15 minutes South Molton’s persistent pressure finally saw them go over to score the first points of the day after some big carries.
The conversion successful, the score 0-7.
Following the try North Tawton started to get more possession in the middle of the pitch with some decent carries from Simon Quick, James Miller and Tom Stevens. The backs were getting much more of the ball but the final passes to the break through the gaps in defence weren’t quite there.
Unfortunately Captain Jack Phare had to come off on the half hour mark with an injury, with Will Lethbridge coming on and a reshuffle to the centres.
Will made a good start with his first few carries causing problems out wide.
The final five minutes of the half saw North Tawton within 10 metres of the South Molton try line.
A couple of rush tackles by Matty Dennis put pressure on the attempt to clear the ball and North Tawton had the ball a few metres off the try line.
After several pick and goes the ball found its way out to Matty Dennis. He found the gap in defence to add to his try tally this season. The conversion successful by Liam Pyle and the teams went in at half-time 7-7.
The second half saw North Tawton gain the wind advantage. Sure enough the Tawts started to kick for territory.
There were some big kicks from Ryan Gross, Liam Pyle, Gary Sizmur and there was a rare one from James Miller in there that kept South Molton in their half much more than the first.
Even though the North Tawton backs were getting much more of the ball, the away side’s defence was doing its job and the next 20 minutes were a series of scrums, lineouts and turnovers, with several big tackles in there too.
With about 60 minutes on the clock North Tawton started to pile on the pressure in the away side’s 22.
Following a series of repeat infringements South Molton were reduced to 14 men after receiving a yellow card.
North Tawton were then awarded a scrum in front of the posts.
Following a few carries from the forward pack the ball was put out to the backs and eventually Will Lethbridge scored North Tawton’s second try of the day.
The conversion was successful by Liam, the score 14-7.
The wind had dropped and South Molton were looking to respond. Spectators started to see some very big hits coming in from both sides.
With about 10 minutes to go North Tawton were awarded a penalty out wide and centre Gary Sizmur slotted it between the posts to put the Tawts 17-7 up.
Although the Tawts defence in the second half had been excellent, South Molton broke through it with the last play of the game. The conversion was missed and the score finished 17-12 to the Tawts.
As I said at the start, what a difference a week can make.
The performance was much improved in this game with the players working together. The defence was also excellent and every player did their part to get the much needed result. This now leaves North Tawton and South Molton both on 28 points in the league, however South Molton have a game in-hand.
There were several great performances so it is hard to not mention everyone.
The man of the match was awarded to Bill Sharp and it was well deserved for causing issues in the line outs and his general play across the pitch.
Another mention has to go to James Miller whose crunching tackles and carries were enjoyed by most of the spectators.
There is no game this weekend with the Tawts next fixture on March 4, when they travel to Brixham.
The club is running a coach for the game, with spaces still available, please contact Jabby Fewings or the club for more details.