Friday 26 August, 2016, by John Sprague
Salcombe are facing something of a crisis as they start this season having lost at least 12 players in the summer in part to other clubs but also to injury and advancing age. While some recruitment has gone on the Crabs are particularly vulnerable in the front row and urgently need to recruit or to persuade one or two players back onto the pitch. Pre season training under James Munday has been going well and numbers attending have been encouraging and there will undoubtedly be competition for many positions in the side. But front row remains a problem.
Last Saturday the pre season work was put to the test against a side at home with a lumpy old pack who knew how to handle themselves and it was very encouraging to see that the Crabs’ fitness levels and defence were excellent with hardly a missed tackle all afternoon. In attack the backs looked very sharp and should have had 3 or 4 more tries but either the last pass didn’t go to hand or white line fever meant that the wrong option was taken at the last minute. Mark Parnowski, newly appointed as Captain, led by example looking very quick in attack and putting in some crunching tackles. New signings Jake Winterbottom on the wing, Steve Moran in the centre and Liam Turvey at flanker all put in the sort of performances that bode well for the future looking hard in the contact and sharp and fit in open play. The new incumbents of two key positions on the field, Marcus Bromwich at 9 and Jay Hannaford at hooker settled in well in their specialist roles and were also very effective in the loose. Old hands James Cooper, Martyn and John Troupe played with their customary forthrightness and thanks must go to Pete Lloyd of Plymstock for helping out at prop and to Stuart Winzer for returning from Kingsbridge to come on off the bench at prop. A random phone call resulted in Kingsbridge’s Ali Hamilton also boosting numbers and playing a very influential game at no 8. Ali if you ever think of swapping the blue for the red, you will be very welcome!
As to the game itself defences dominated throughout and in the first half Salcombe missed chances that should have been put away but nevertheless spent almost the entire first half camped in the Plympton half only allowing the home side the briefest of forays into Crab territory. Lee Clarke at 10 controlled events nicely kicking intelligently for territory and passing at the right time. But at half time the match remained scoreless as it did for much of the 2nd period. Plympton now playing down the slope had a purple patch for 10 minutes in the middle of the half and sensing that they were never going to get over the Crabs’ whitewash they opted for the sticks at a penalty rather than going for touch. The shock of being 3-0 down galvanised Salcombe who took play up to the Plympton 22 where some quick posession and neat handling allowed Winterbottom to race over in the corner. Clarke then put over a fabulous conversion from the touchline in the face of a strong crosswind to bring up the final score of 7-3 to Salcombe.