Sunday 9 October, 2016, by John Sprague
Salcombe had hopes of winning this one as they had gone to OPM last month with a weak side and were now fielding a stronger outfit. Unfortunately so did OPM who were almost unrecognisable from the side the Crabs played in Plymouth. Thus Salcombe hardly touched the ball in the first 20 minutes but defended well under constant pressure to limit the visitors to 2 tries in the first half, both converted. The first came when OPM exploited a dogleg in the Salcombe defence and set up a good position about 10 yards out. A quick feed from the ruck saw their big no8 go over close to the posts.
The next came towards the end of the first half when Salcombe had had a period lodged in their opponents half. A slick bit of handling in the backs was marred by a dropped pass which the visitors back row picked up to take play up into Salcombe territory and good following up ensured they had sufficient numbers to get round the disorganised Salcombe defence and bring up a half time score of 14-0 to OPM.
In the second half Salcombe conceded an early penalty and the OPM backs linked well with their forwards to score an unconverted try wide out. Play gradually became more scrappy and with the Crabs making some good substitutions the game was much more even. An OPM offence enabled Lee Clarke to kick a penalty to reduce the deficit to 3-19 to OPM. A further penalty to the Crabs soon after was taken quickly by Liam Wills who had no one in front of him. Unluckily for him an OPM player just managed illegally, within 5 yards of the kick, to grab his shirt from behind and despite Wills towing him along for about 30 yards he couldn’t shake him off and was eventually forced into touch. In a petulant outburst Wills threw the ball at the offending OPM player and was yellow carded for his trouble. But as the ref remarked to the OPM player “you were lucky he didn’t deck you, I would have done as a player” and with that the visitor too departed with a yellow card. Needless to say all3 made up in the clubhouse afterwards!
Salcombe now playing with Richard Culley and Chris Roberts in the front row started to dominate events but a lapse of concentration in defence, a dogleg and some poor individual tackling let OPM in for a 4th converted try against the run of play to make the final score 3-26 to OPM.
As a set of individuals Salcombe generally played well and new signing Matt Hurst was very prominent throughout. He was ably backed up by Liam Turvey at openside who was rightly declared Man of the Match for his ubiquitous presence all over the park and his tackling. Salcombe now need to blend this group of players into a team with systems designed to cope with things when they go wrong and to exploit them when they go right.