Monday 3 December, 2018, by John Sprague
This was another potentially tough match against the 2nd placed side in the Merit Table but following the victory against Table leaders Kingsbridge last week, the Crabs were reasonably confident that they could get the right result again. And so it proved with the added extra this week of getting the 4 try bonus point that had eluded Salcombe last week. This leaves Salcombe in 2nd place in the Table with 34 points from 7 matches, unbeaten in the Table and with the 4 try bonus point in 6 of the 7 matches they have played.
The game started fairly quietly with both sides testing each other out and both putting the emphasis on defence thus creating a rather boring stalemate from the spectators’ point of view. It was clear that Torquay’s tactics were to use their forwards to gain the ball and then for their 10 or 12 to kick deep into Salcombe territory and then to use strike runners in the forwards to try to bulldose their way over. However one of the most improved aspects of the Crabs performance this season has been their tight defence which has conceded only 2 tries in the last 4 matches and very few all season. The visitors were also unaware of Salcombe’s ability to attack from deep so that safely gathering a Torquay kick Max Rawlinson, put in a great solo run of around 70 metres right through the middle of the Torquay ranks to score under the posts.
This was soon followed by another Max Rawlinson try but this time in rather different circumstances. James Cooper won a clean lineout and Marcus Bromwich at scrum half threw a fast accurate pass straight to inside centre Chris Drew who making ground found Max Rawlinson on his shoulder to take the scoring pass, graphically making the point that quick clean posession often results in tries. With Lee Clarke converting both touchdowns the score at half time was 14-0 to the Crabs.
Torquay were far from done and with a large wily pack made up of quite a few old heads they always threatened with the ball in hand but the hard tackling Salcombe forwards usually had their measure. A particularly key moment was when the visitors’ big 2nd row came with the ball and was stopped in his tracks by the solid shoulder of no8 Matt Hurst. The Torquay man visibly crumpled as the air was knocked out of him with a hiss clearly audible on the touch line!
The Crabs’ 3rd try came soon after when Salcombe won the ball in a ruck on the visitors’ 22. Clarke rapidly shipped the ball to centre Liam Wills who brushed aside the opposition to score close to the posts and this time avoided taking out the referee, the same one who had officiated last week and was still nursing bruised ribs from the encounter.
With Clarke’s conversion moving the score to 21–0 Salcombe quickened the pace searching for the bonus point. This duly came when the Rawlinson brothers combined with Max feeding his brother Will to touch down wide out after having to make a very determined run past several defenders. With the bonus point in the bag and the score at 26-0 the Crabs relaxed somewhat and allowed Torquay a consolation try just before the end of the match.