Tuesday 20 February, 2018, by Oli Masters
17th February 2018
For many matches this season Salcombe have battled hard but ultimately come undone by a certain period in a game in which the match is lost. Seldom have the Crabs been completely overrun and outplayed and in every game they have fought hard with every opposition team knowing they had been in a encounter that is not reflective of the final score board.
Unfortunately Saturday’s match was played out in similar fashion, the patch in which the game was lost was immediately after half time with the score line at 13-10, in this 20 minute section the hosts scored an unanswered 20 points and despite the Reds coming alive themselves shortly thereafter to make the final score 35 – 24 they could not quite do enough to secure any form of bonus points.
So where do Salcombe go from here? As has been the case throughout the season the positives were there for all to see; the playing squad which is as skilled as it has ever been, a mix of younger talent and more experienced players showing a great strength in depth that bodes well for the future. This was none more evident than by the try scorers. Firstly older head Matt Hurst who terrorised the Buckfastleigh players all day long with barrelling runs and the most physical of defensive displays. The second try was scored by George Parnowski-Davies who grabbed his first senior try cutting down the left wing before rounding the full back having replaced his OLD man Mark. The third try was a frantic mess of knees and elbows courtesy of Kieron Clarke who made great ground before passing to fellow youngster Jack Howwitt who refused to be tackled by at least 4 defenders to break free and score close to the posts. The strength of the squad was also shown by the players not selected to start, Club legends Chris Drew and Neil Elliott were fulfilling the role of finishers and was reminiscent of England Vs Italy in 2006 when Laurence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson were named on the bench.
Several other elements were huge improvements on previous showings this season, first up tackling particularly by Liam Wills, Marco Alfano-Rogers, Daffyd Bonar and Hurst was impeccable, options in attack were varied for the first time this season and the work rate and interlinking also worked very well. Lee Clarke remembered his kicking boots this week and was pinging them over from each touch line and the backs and forwards were able to combine very well. The Man of the match was Jay Hannaford taking his chance to shine as the elder statesmen of the front row despite being aged 22, he was everywhere hitting tackles and showing his trademark pace breaking tackles and gaining ground on every carry.
The Crabs have plenty to work on ahead of next week’s fixture against Illfracombe and should provide a good barometer of where the club are currently headed, it is also the last home league game of the season and the final chance to gain an elusive win against a team ranked higher than them.