In a scrappy match where the bitter wind made for frozen fingers and loads of dropped balls, Salcombe duly overcame the bottom side in the league who have not won a match all season. The result was never in doubt, the uncertain factor was by how much would Salcombe win.
Inevitably in the conditions it was the forwards who were going to determine the outcome and initially in the set the Crabs were not as comfortable as they might have liked. Nevertheless a steady stream of posession from turnovers saw Salcombe camped in the visitors half for much of the first half against the wind. Awarded a penalty they opted for the kick to touch and the resultant drive ended with Richard Gregson at flanker touch down for a 5-0 lead.
The visitors competed well and opted to kick deep with the wind when they got the ball thus forcing Salcombe to gather and gradually force their way upfield by going through the phases. They got their just reward when James Palmer playing at 2nd row latched on to a wayward Plympton pass and cruised gently over the line from the 22 while nursing a sore ankle from a tackle in the previous play. Lee Clarke converted and the Crabs were 12-0 ahead at half time.
A rearranged front row in the second half with Ryan Hatch and John Troupe coming on as props and Chris Roberts at hooker gave Salcombe a big advantage in the tight and resulted in several takes against the head. Salcombe now dominated the posession but poor decision making and several kicks charged down did not result in their capitalising on their advantage. However from a well taken tap penalty Palmer went over wide out and with Lee Clarke kicking a great conversion from near the touchline Salcombe moved to 19-0 ahead.
This was soon followed by a try from Salcombe's new signing Nick Bidwell playing at inside centre. A penalty kick to touch followed by the drive from the lineout which Plympton halted quickly, meant the ball was recycled at speed to the backs and allowed Bidwell to use his strength to bulldose his way over. Clarke again converted and Salcombe had the bonus point.
Towards the end of the game Salcombe again went for the lineout option at a penalty and from the resultant peel Stuart Winzer at 8 used his muscle to force his way to the line. On this occasion the conversion failed and the final score of 31-0 came up.
Man of the match as far as your correspondant is concerned was Martyn Troupe at 2nd row who played with commitment throughout the match handling the ball on occasion as a back and whose effort did not flag at all on the heavy pitch.
This week Salcombe are away at Old Technicians ko 2.30.
This was a much more even match than the score suggests, the difference being that the visitors had a no13 of outstanding ability for this level of rugby who scored 2 brilliant individual tries from around the half way mark. Additionally as legs tired the Crabs let in a soft try due to poor tackling. All 3 were under the posts and easily converted.
Salcombe kicked off with a near gale blowing straight down the pitch and were very rarely out of the visitors half for the first 40 minutes. They had a wealth of posession but could not break the Ilfracombe defence. At times it might have been better to go through several more phases to suck the defence in as the visitors scarsely defended some of the rucks. Ilfracombe also were frequently penalised but the wind made anything other than in front of the posts almost impossible. However Lee Clarke did manage to get one over to give the Crabs a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Subsequently Stuart Winzer crashed over the line from a tap penalty but the referee, our very own Stuart Reed, judged that the ball was held up, an opinion not shared by almost anyone else present including some of the Ilfracombe players who started berating those responsible for letting Winzer in. As Winzer got up with the ball wedged under his ample midriff the home crowd were justified in thinking that Salcombe were robbed!
At half time Salcombe were still 3-0 ahead but now facing the wind in the second half they put a lot of pressure on Ilfracombe and spent considerable periods in the visitors half, something Ilfracombe hadn't managed to do in the first half. But talent will out and after the visitors' centre had scored his two tries to make the score 14-3 to Ilfracombe, the Crabs faced an uphill task. They stuck to it manfully but looked unlikely to add to their tally, a prospect that retreated further when Ilfracombe got their third making the final score 21-3 to the visitors.
Salcombe played better this week than in last week's victory maintaining shape better and encouragingly several younger players are showing up well. Lee Clarke played well at no 10 and grows into the position with every game he plays. Jay Hannaford has now fought his way into being a regular contender at flanker rather than coming off the bench and has added an ability to carry the ball effectively to his already excellent tackling ability. Kieron Clarke on the wing showed flashes of speed on the odd occasion when he got the ball and Toby Woods and Luke Pepperell both did well coming off the bench.
This week Salcombe entertain Plympton Victoria in a rearranged league match, ko 2.30 at Twomeads.
This game should never have been played and wouldn't have been but for it being the Old Boys VP day and they wanted something to watch. What they had to watch was closely akin to mud wrestling on a pitch that was several stages worse than a quagmire. Inevitably mistakes occured all over the place and handling was particularly difficult. The ref was in picky mode and so the game progressed in stacato bursts.
The Old Boys were first to score after 10 minutes when the Crabs' defence at a ruck parted like Moses at the Dead Sea to allow their scrum half to scamper in under the posts for a converted try. However Salcombe on their first visit to the DHSOB 22 were awarded a penalty which Chris Drew calmly converted to make the score 7-3 to the home side.
For most of the rest of the half the mud was the winner and there was little in the way of action. Liam Wills making a welcome return to the Crabs had one or two strong runs but neither side looked like scoring again. On turning round for the second period Salcombe fairly quickly conceded a penalty and the Old Boys moved into a 10-3 lead. This looked as if it might be the final score as the mud got worse and the effort the players needed to move about increased exponentially.
With 10 minutes to go an injury stoppage seemed to refresh the Salcombe players who suddenly started to put in some punishing runs with Stuart Winzer, James Palmer, Jim Winzer,Scott Lowry and Martin Troupe all prominent. From one such surge by Palmer a ruck ensued and Lee Clarke at scrum half took advantage of a tired Old Boys defence to touch down under the posts. Drew converted and the scores were level.
Salcombe now came to life and camped in the DHSOB 22. A driving maul from a line out took them within 5 yards of the line and at the following ruck Stuart Winzer went over in a neat switch move with Lee Clarke straight off the trainnig pitch. Drew's conversion from wide out rattled the upright to put the Crabs 15-10 ahead. Further pressure form Salcombe saw the Old Boys concede 2 further penalties which Drew converted to bring up the final score.
This week Salcombe play Ilfracombe at home, ko 2.30, after the VPs' lunch. Lets hope Salcombe play as well as they did in the last 10 minutes of this match.
Salcombe suffered yet another defeat in the league to local rivals Dartmouth despite the enthusiastic support of the many ex players who had gathered for a lunch before the match which was sponsored by Ben Eva of Specialist Vehicles of Plympton. The club's heartfelt thanks go to Ben for his support which, apart from the result, made it a great occasion.
Things started well for the Crabs when in the third minute of the match inside centre Lee Clarke latched on to an interception and raced 35 yards to the line. He was closely persued by a figure in green who almost caught him but the Salcombe faithful were relieved to see it was the ref who was in a strip very close to the Dartmouth away kit! The conversion failed in the strong wind to leave Salcombe 5-0 up.
The game thereafter was fairly even although the chunky Dartmouth pack were giving the Crabs, weakened by the absence of their 2 regular locks, a torrid time in the tight. Pressure eventually told and Dartmouth scored wide out for an unconverted try to even the scores.
Salcombe came back well and Dartmouth were forced to give away a penalty about 30 metres out and only 15 in from the touchline which Lee Clarke did well to convert in the wind. However late in the half Dartmouth scored another try which they converted to bring up a half time score of 12-8 to Dartmouth.
Turning round with the wind at their backs Dartmouth now were camped almost continuously in the Crabs' half and even with considerable posession won by the Salcombe back row in which Richard Gregson was outstanding they could not lift the siege. Pressure mounted and Dartmouth scored 2 more tries to give them the bonus point and bring the scre to 24-8 to the visitors.
Salcombe rallied late in the half and kicked a penalty to touch close to the Dartmouth line. From the resultant drive superbly orchestrated by flanker Martyn Troupe, Chris Drew at no 10 somehow joined the move, snaffled the ball from Troupe as they were going over the line and gained the touchdown. Nice poaching Drewsy!! Lee Clarke then put over an excellent kick from close to the touchline to bring up a final score of 24-15 to Dartmouth.
This week the Crabs travel to Plympton Victoria for a re-arranged league match, ko 2pm to allow time to get comfortably seated fot the England game.