Monday 7 November, 2016, by John Sprague
Like a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis this Salcombe side came through their first league game of the season in resplendent style. After the travails of the past few months with the loss of so many players, the remaining group, with a few recruits, came good last Saturday after a string of defeats. That they did so is largely down to 3 factors, an absolute determination that rugby should continue to be played in Salcombe, a huge sense of self belief that they could perform well on the pitch and, importantly, the unstinting efforts of coach James Mundy assisted by Mervyn Down to make that ambition a reality. While undoubtedly much sterner tests than a weak Plym Vic side await, for instance next week at a rampant Buckfastleigh, this result will hearten all at Twomeads who want to see the Crabs resurgent.
Salcombe’s progress is best encapsulated using the example of 2 players, a recruit and an established Salcombe regular. The recruit is Ashley Treeby who kicked 2 penalties, converted all 8 of Salcombe’s tries one of which he scored himself, for a total of 27 points. The established player is Kieron Clarke who this year has realised his potential and on Saturday was rightly awarded Man of the Match. He didn’t score any tries but with a plentiful supply of ball his penetrating runs set up several positions from which tries were scored. Transferring to the forwards to give others a rest at half time, he used his size and speed to demolish a number of the Plympton pack. If, as is possible, Salcombe have a wealth of options in the backs, then Kieron has all the makings of a no7 once he has been taught some of the dark arts of winning the ball on the ground.
Mundy decided to put in a cameo performance himself at scrum half and his combination with Treeby soon had the Crabs entrenched in the home sides territory. Errors from Plympton enabled Treeby to slot 2 penalties for an early 6-0 lead and it was refreshing to see Salcombe take the points on offer rather than the always riskier option of the lineout and rumble. Then a break in the centre by Liam Wills carried on by Oli Masters and a run from Clarke set up position close to the home line. A panicked defence lost the ball to the effervescent James Cooper who went over for the try. Treeby’s conversion brought the score to 13-0.
Thereafter The Crabs scored regularly. A good surge by the forwards saw Martyn Troupe, making a welcome return after a long injury, feed Neil Elliott for a try before Mundy broke to give Jake Winterbottom the try. Winterbottom then repaid the favour catching the PlymVic kick off and searing up the wing before handing on to Treeby for the bonus point try and a half time score of 34-0.
Lee Clarke now came on at no9, his best position, in place of Mundy and quickly established a rapport with Treeby at 10. When the backs set up position Troupe broke away and in his typical rampaging fashion he broke tackles for a fine individual try. Elliott then got his second after good hands from Scott Lowry put him in and that was followed by a penalty try as the Crabs were in the process of a pushover. Some reorganisation in the Salcombe line up allowed PlymVic to score 2 quick tries, one converted, before normal service was resumed with Wills finishing off a fine backs move for the last score of the match.
In a good day for the Crabs there were a number of notable performances, Chris Drew in an unaccustomed no6 shirt, Jack Davey in the centre for a spell and the ever reliable John Troupe and Nick Trant at prop. Thanks must also go to several players not selected who turned up to help with water etc and the 20 or so spectators rewarded by this sterling performance.