Ilfracombe coach Jonny Bowden said he was proud of his players after they gave runaway Devon One leaders Withycombe a scare.

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Withies maintained their 100 per cent league and cup record for the season with a 31-7 win over visiting Ilfracombe. But it was only after the break that the leaders really got on top.

Had it not been for a spilled ball close to the line by an Ilfracombe player, the visitors could have been ahead at half time.

Combe had to settle for a 12-7 deficit at the break, but even that was impressive given the unusual circumstances surrounding the game.

"We were hit with many injuries and unavailabilities to key players and we did well to muster 14 men to make the trip," said Bowden.

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"Then the venue got changed at the last minute, meaning we had to change at Withycombe RFC then drive 20 minutes through traffic to the pitch at Bicton College.

"We were glad there was another surface to get the game played on, but with all these delays and traffic it meant we only arrived bang on kick off! So when they scored twice in the opening five minutes it wasn't really a surprise, and I thought we might be in for a long afternoon.

"Once we got the journey and disruption out of our legs, we caused them real problems. We got a try back and looked like we would score another after some good offloads.

"But the final pass went astray, otherwise we would have actually been in front at half time.

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"To hold them for as long as we did was impressive. They only scored their bonus-point try in the final stages, and I was very proud of the way the lads played."

Dermot Dalton was credited with Ilfracombe's first half try as he was just about to dot the ball down over the line when he was taken out by a high tackle, which was punished with a penalty try.

Ilfracombe are back on the road to New Cross this Saturday.

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