Monday 18 December, 2017, by Oli Masters
North Tawton v Salcombe (20–3)
It would be far too simplistic to suggest that had Salcombe travelled with more than the 15 available players they had on Saturday then the 20 – 3 defeat would have been different. What is inescapable however is the fact that when a match ending injury occurred to one player in the first half the Crabs had to play well over half the game with first 14 players and then the last 20 minutes with 13 when another ran himself into the ground with shear effort before getting a bang on the head. The added benefit of one or two substitutes may well have given away side a little more influence on the game, it would have certainly prevented North Tawton’s last (of 4 tries) when Salcombe simply ran out of defenders allowing their winger to score out wide.
That is not to take anything away from how Salcombe battled in adversity but the truth is at least two Salcombe players should not have played due to injury, one player was making his first appearance on a pitch for 2 years, 2 of the more “senior” players agreed to travel early in the week only on the proviso that they wouldn’t be expected to make the full 80 minutes, by Saturday they couldn’t back out. As always the Crabs showed their customary heart in poor conditions and on an increasingly churned up pitch, demonstrating resilience and fight in abundance however as is so often the case they were not able to back it up on the score board.
In terms of the match the first half was always going to be a struggle due to playing into a strong wind and for the most part Salcombe struggled to gain any territory, the home side scored twice in this period but would have expected more given that the conditions were favouring them at this point. It was during this section that Salcombe lost talismanic captain Liam Wills to what looked a worrying shoulder injury and we hope this is not as serious as first feared. The second half began well, a penalty by new dad Lee Clarke got Salcombe into the game and playing with the wind saw them exert some real dominance over the North Tawton pack especially at scrum time with the home side being driven backwards and several being taken against the head by the ageless Neil Elliot making his first league appearance of the season. Frustratingly Salcombe could not generate any points from this purple patch and shortly after went down to 13 players after another injury this time to the dominant Nick Trant, much to the delight of his opposite number who had been given a torrid time in the tight.
Tawton then scored their 4th and final try of the afternoon and the match finished 20-3, in a fair match of equal numbers things might have been different but that would perhaps take responsibility away from the away team who had chances to score even with the odds stacked against them. The Squad list for the game consisted of N Trant, D Sinnott, K Clarke, J Cooper, J Hannaford, M Hurst, C Julian, L Clarke, O Masters, L Wills, J Howitt, A Masters & S Herselman. Notable performances from Howitt who tried to get the crabs on the front foot in midfield and number 8 Hurst who left a trail of bodies in his wake on a number of occasions. The Men of the match were Neil Elliott for his tireless ball carrying and governance of the scrums and Dafydd Bonar, making his league debut for Salcombe tackled heroically and putting his body on the line as an ever willing runner.
Salcombe must now regroup, heal some broken bodies with the blank week that comes next and return stronger for the home tie against 2nd placed OPM’s. If anyone, old or young, returning to the game or having never played would like to see what SRFC is all about then please do get yourself to Two Meads on a Thursday night 7pm onwards, you will find a great bunch of lads, top quality coaching and the best facilities for rugby in the South Hams.
All at SRFC would also like to wish 1st team captain Mark Parnowski a speedy return from the extensive knee re-build he underwent last week, we hope the surgery went well and that we see you back in the red and white before too long.