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Salcombe 36 - St. Columba 26

Monday 8 October, 2018, by John Sprague

Due to one Devon RFU’s less inspired ideas whereby the Devon 2 league was abandoned, Salcombe now find themselves in a merit table designed to include larger clubs’ 2nd teams. The visit of one of these a fortnight ago was called off as they couldn’t raise a team. Thus last Saturday was the Crabs’ first home game this season and what a game it was against one of our old rivals from Devon 2.

Playing with the strong wind in the first half Salcombe set out their stall against a powerful looking Saints side with some hefty tackling as the visitors pressed hard. Although outweighed in the pack Salcombe’s backs showed considerable sparkle and with the back row of Marco Alfano-Rogers, Max Rawlinson and Dafydd Bonar snuffing out Saints attacks and securing ball, things looked promising for the home side. Indeed after 15 minutes Salcombe went through a series of phases before Rawlinson emerged with the ball, offloaded well to Liam Wills enabling the beefy centre to show his pace scoring under the posts, 7-0 with the Lee Clarke conversion.

A couple of minutes later fellow centre Henry Watts made a lovely interception on half way and his gas ensured no one laid a hand on him as he too touched down under the posts 14-0 with the conversion. Following that St Columba opened their account when a well thrown long pass let their winger in wide out while the Crabs defence was too narrow, 14-5.

A lovely bit of interpassing between backs and forwards took play deep into the visitors 22 and after a series of pick and goes prop Finn Nicholas rounded off the move in which he had been already conspicuous crashing over for the try, 19-5. Sloppy tackling on Saints fast and elusive full back allowed him in for a converted try, 19-12 at half time.

A similar patch of poor tackling allowed the Saints full back to repeat his earlier effort and suddenly scores were level and Salcombe were playing into the teeth of the wind. The Crabs now put together some of their best rugby and were helped by having a full bench of replacements, including 4 front row players in Toby Woods, ChrisRoberts, Tom Veale and Jonathon Troupe, all of whom made their mark in the game. Posession flowed and after a bruising passage of play Rawlinson broke free to score wide out to make the score 24-19. This was quickly followed by a try from Alfano-Roberts to cap a superb afternoon from him, 31-19, with the very difficult conversion made by the ever youthful Mark Lidstone while Clarke enjoyed a 10 minute rest, courtesy of the ref!.

St Columba stuck to their task and awarded a scrum just a few yards out, they eventually after several phases rumbled over, 31-26. But Salcombe then came back yet again and set up camp in the visitors 22. A neat bit of play left the ball in Captain James Cooper’s hands 15 metres out and with plenty to do. A sidestep and a dummy, unusual for a 2nd row forward, saw him through to bring up the final score of 36-26.

Apart from a couple of lapses in tackling this was a good performance by the Crabs against an organised St Columba side. Everyone played well for Salcombe but in the backs George Davies stood out with his speed on the wing and some very hard tackles. In the forwards the back row were ever present but outstanding was the Man of the Match Jay Hannaford whose carrying was penetrating and whose tackle count was high.