Monday 13 February, 2017, by Oli Masters
Not for the first time this season Salcombe travelled to an away match with a squad depleted through injury and unavailability and it would probably be fair to say that expectations of a positive result were not high especially given the opposition’s lofty league position. Add to this the fact that OPM’s were somewhat embarrassed by the only very narrow win that they were able to glean in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and one would have expected them to be out for a revenge befitting of their status as co-favourites for promotion.
The 3 kicked penalties from the home side in following 80 minutes were the only clear cut points scoring opportunities (save for one textbook tackle from James Cooper that held their prop up in goal) OPM’s were afforded and really should have Salcombe scratching their heads over what this season might have looked like with a bit more self-belief and consistency.
First half attacking highlights were few and far between from both teams with the majority of the game being played in the middle third of the pitch. One first half scrum saw the ever improving Marcus Prawnwich at scrum half dart off with the ball when he thought he sniffed a gap, making good ground and nearly combining neatly with Jake Winterbottom on the right wing, unfortunately prior communication with the pack was lacking and no team mates were able to assist with the ball then being turned over. Where Salcombe stood out from certain other noteworthy defeats this season was the effort in defence, the opposition’s reliance on sending big runners into the Salcombe ranks was each time defended with aplomb with stopping tackles coming in from all quarters notably Centres Mark “head guard” Parnowski and Liam Wills, Number 8 Matt Hurst and Flankers Liam Turvey & Richard Gregson. Another plus point to take away from the match was how, for arguably the first time this season the scrum was able to operate which really gave the backs a solid base to try and attack with, credit in this respect to the front row of John Troupe, Jay Hannaford-Elliott and Dan Sinnott.
The second half was much the same with very little in the way of clear cut opportunities for either team although the home side were able to gain an advantage by having a replacement bench to call upon which would be shown in any possession and territory statistics if it wasn’t so cold that the crowd dared not remove hands from pockets to collate them.
Salcombe continued to defend with serious heart and effort, something that has not been lacking this season even gaining a man advantage when the Plymouthian Openside retaliated right in front of the referee when the traditional Troupe yellow card was being threatened, unfortunately they were not able to make this count in terms of points.
Notable performances were from Fly half Lee Clarke who had one of his most assured performances in the position, second rows Cooper and Martyn Troupe who were tireless in the tackle and line out and to man of the match Full Back Craig Julian who’s kick returns and decision making turned defence into attack more than once. Special mention as well to none playing substitute Steve Moran who provided injury back up despite a full day of England Deaf Rugby Training the next day which SRFC hopes went well.
The next fixture for the Crabs is against Plymouth Old Technicians at Two Meads on the 18th February and represents that last opportunity for Salcombe to beat a team with a higher league position than them, a feat not achieved for several seasons and something all involved should be desperate to change.