Tuesday 25 October, 2016, by John Sprague
What goes round, comes round as they say! A few years back when Salcombe and Wessex were in the same league our 2s had a fixture in Exeter with Wessex 2s. But our 1st team hadn’t got a match so up they went and duly notched up 50+ points against their 2s. Last Saturday was payback time. Many of the Crabs’ current side had never played Wessex so didn’t realise when the latter arrived that it was not their 2s but their 1st team with one or two others they wanted to try out. When he arrived your correspondent spotted an old friend, the Wessex manager, with a big grin on his face who cheerfully admitted to the deception with the words “we owe you one”!
So it proved and with a half time score of 0-45 there was speculation over whether Wessex might hit 3 figures. Salcombe were already short of a few key players but Wessex with the stiff breeze behind them tore into a very tentative Crabs’ defence and scored regularly with their backs doing most of the damage from the good ball their heavy pack provided. Things were not helped for Salcombe when Nick Bidwell made an excellent run in attack but in the tackle collected a bad knee injury that will keep him out for some time.
What James Mundy, the Salcombe coach, said at half time remains a mystery but Salcombe were transformed and it cannot all be down to the Crabs having the wind behind them now. Their defence tightened hugely and judicious kicking from Ashley Treeby and Lee Clarke kept Salcombe on the offensive and on two occasions they were unlucky not to score. The visitors now sensed that the game had changed and tried to play with increased urgency but their earlier fluency was disrupted by the vigorous Salcombe tackling which saw three Wessex players going off with injuries. Eventually, late in the half, their determination was rewarded with a penalty try, well justified as they were just about to get the pushover when a Salcombe player kicked the ball out of the scrum, all he could do in the circumstances! But from a 45-0 beating in the first half Salcombe held a team a league higher to 7-0 in the second.
Difficult to pick out the Salcombe players who stood out but special mention must be made of Craig Julian who had his best game in a Salcombe shirt to date, not so much in his basic scrum half duties but in the ferocity of his tackling ripping the ball out for a turnover on one occasion. Dan Sinnott at prop also looked handy holding up well under the pressure of a much bigger pack facing him and still having the energy to get about the park and make important tackles. Liam Wills in an unaccustomed position at no8 was prominent throughout. However with a greater share of the ball being won by the forwards in the second half, Ashley Treeby stood out for the way he orchestrated Salcombe attacks and generally dictated play.
After 10 fixtures in as many weeks Salcombe are having a week off before they start their league season on 5 November away to Plympton Victoria, ko 2.30