Monday 5 November, 2018, by John Sprague
Having won their last two Merit Table matches against Plymouth Uni 3s at home and Plymstock 2s away, both five pointers due to tries scored, Salcombe went into this match hoping to record their fifth five pointer out of five played in the Table. And so it proved as the Crabs ran up a big score in a match that was actually more even than the result suggests.
The Old Boys came with a big side who gave Salcombe a hard time of it in the scrum but with only 2 or 3 strike runners and no threat from outside they were doomed to fail as long as Salcombe kept tackling well. This the Crabs did with Liam Wills, Marco Alfano Rogers and Jay Hannaford putting in some particularly shuddering hits. But the visitors looked as if they had been taking lessons from the Chiefs, retaining the ball very well to keep attacking but getting nowhere in face of the Crabs’ defence.
On the other hand when Salcombe got the ball they were immediately threatening and within the first two minutes Charlie Rawlinson demonstrated his speed as he blazed away from the cover to score under the posts. With Lee Clarke in good kicking form, converting 7 of Salcombe’s 10 tries, two from very difficult positions, the Crabs had an air of confidence about them. However mistakes occur and a wild pass off the ground from one of Salcombe’s lively forwards lost them a lot of ground and gave away a penalty from the ensuing ruck to enable the visitors to make the score 7-3.
But that was as far as the Old Boys got. Salcombe were in expansive mood with the ball in hand and although the visitors defended well they regularly ran out of numbers enabling Charlie Rawlinson to get his second and Josh Dornom on the other wing to put in a fine solo effort for his try. Just before half time Salcombe got the bonus point with their fourth try, a typical bullocking run from Scott Lowry shrugging off would be tacklers after he had been fed the ball from the backs.
With the score at 24-3 Salcombe turned round to get the benefit of the stiff breeze and receiving the kick off Salcombe exited well thanks to a massive kick to touch from Lee Clarke who found touch deep in the Old Boys half. Gaining possession in the loose Salcombe drove enabling the unstopable Matt Hurst to go over. Charlie Rawlinson then got his third as Salcombe won their set scrum and Liam Wills made a searing break through the middle before his deft offload put the winger in. Captain James Cooper got in on the act putting in a fine solo drive from 15 yards out to touch down. Lee Clarke then added to his kicking display with a great charge through a cluster of defenders for his try wide out. Scott Lowry got his second outpacing an increasingly tired defence and the scoring was rounded off by Marco Alfano Rogers capping his fine defensive display with a typical charge through the defence for his try.
40 points without reply in the second half tells its own story. The Old Boys tired visibly chasing shadows as the Crab’s backs weaved their magic and the Salcombe pack got on more than even terms with their counterparts securing an increasing share of the ball. Mention must be made of the Salcombe front row of Toby Woods at hooker, Jon Troupe and Jay Hannaford at prop who stuck to their guns well in face of significantly weightier opponents and who provided a firm platform for the Salcombe scrum. Their only respite came when Troupe finished a magnificent shift with 20 minutes to go and Nick Trant came on to play havoc with a tired Old Boys front row.