Friday 30 November, 2018, by John Sprague
SALCOMBE 23 KINGSBRIDGE 2s 5
Having notched up 138 points in their previous 2 matches, Salcombe were well aware that this was going to be a far sterner test against the Merit Table leaders. The visitors were expected to bring a lumpy pack and on the day, with the Kingsbridge 1s match postponed due to the weather, they were reinforced by their 3 players who had been pinched off them to make up the first team.
In pouring rain and with a heavy pitch the conditions were also expected to favour the visitors as the Crabs were unlikely to be able to make best use of their lively backs. Thus for the first 20 minutes something of an arm wrestle developed amongst the forwards with Salcombe holding their own against the heavier visitors but generally having better field position when their backs could make serious incursions into Kingsbridge territory. Lineouts were much improved for Salcombe with James Cooper and Marco Alfano-Rogers securing necessary possession to set up the attack and with Marcus Bromwich “ Prawny” having an outstanding game at scrum half the Salcombe backs got an increasing share of the ball.
Salcombe came near to scoring several times in the first half but in the end had to be content with a Lee Clarke penalty for a 3-0 lead at the end of the first half. Kingsbridge defense was outstanding throughout the first period but at the break Salcombe brought on a lot more weight in the pack and rang one or two changes in the backs.
This had an immediate effect as the Crabs took the game by the scruff of the neck and the forwards started to make heavy inroads with the ball in hand. Nick Trant and Max Rawlinson in particular were very prominent in the loose and the extra shove started to give Kingsbridge problems in the tight. With slow ball at the set the visitors found themselves deeper in trouble as the lively Prawny regularly caught his opposite number before he could get the ball away. Another Clarke penalty moved the score onto 6-0 and Crabs pressure caused the visitors to concede further penalties but with no reward until a number of pick and goes allowed Rawlinson to use speed and power to go over wide out, 11-0.
Then in one of their rare lapses of concentration Salcombe made a mess of the Kingsbridge kick off enabling the visitors to secure the ball and after a number of phases they scored wide out to make it 11-5. With Clarke off injured Chris Drew came on at no 10 and showing all the wisdom of his considerable years and experience he opted to go blind making a lovely break before handing on a well timed pass to Jack Howitt. The centre still had a lot to do but went over through pure pace wide out for 16-5.
Salcombe were now dominant and appeared to score 2 tries both of which were disallowed, the first for held up and the second when Liam Wills touched down clearly but in going over had bumped into the referee and although this hadn’t impeded the Kingsbridge defence, the law states that the try could not be awarded.
However the Crabs soon had their just reward when the indefatigable Prawny backed himself close to the posts and touched down. With the Drew conversion the score moved to 23-5 as Salcombe sought desperately to get the 4th bonus point try. But the clock denied them but the lack of the bonus did not seem to diminish the Crabs’ celebrations of their win.
Everyone played well for the Crabs but special mention goes to the two first half props Jonathon Troupe and Dan Sinnott who were firm in the tight against their fresh heavy opposite numbers and as ever Matt Hurst who was exceptional at close quarters. In the backs when he came on George Parnowski caught the eye on the wing both for his tackling and his always secure fielding the high ball as the visitors made him something of a target.