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Salcombe vs OPM (17-21)

Sunday 6 January, 2019, by John Sprague

With their 2s having been beaten by over 70 points earlier in the season at Twomeads, the visitors took the opportunity of not having a first team match to send up a club side with 12 of their firsts in it to give the Crabs a much sterner test. Salcombe themselves were lighter than usual with 6 regulars injured or unavailable but even so while generally under pressure throughout the game, they gave a good account of themselves in a pretty even match with 3 tries apiece.

The crucial difference between the sides was OPM’s much superior ability to retain the ball once they had it and to concentrate on the basics of the game thrusting up the middle before letting the ball go wide. Salcombe struggled to win the ball in the breakdown and relied largely on the set piece to get possession. But then almost always they threw it about with a commendable ambition that wasn’t always matched by their handling; balls were dropped both in the tackle but quite often in the open as well.

The game started well for Salcombe when after 5 minutes James Cooper stole a visitors lineout on the OPM 22. The ball came down to hooker Toby Woods who found the OPM defence opening up in front of him and at no more than a canter he went over untouched under the posts. Lee Clarke converted for a 7-0 lead. This woke the visitors up and the Crabs were then subjected to a period of intense pressure which resulted eventually in a try as Salcombe ran out of tacklers and so the score moved to 7 apiece.

Despite the pressure the Crabs tackling and organisation in defence was exemplary but their ability to break out of defence also showed promise. Thus a great take of a high ball by full back Shalk Hersellman enabled him to make ground before handing on to no8 Marco Stephano Rogers who then made 40 or so metres before being bundled illegally into touch. The penalty took Salcombe to the OPM 5 metre line but the drive from the lineout was stopped as OPM collapsed the maul and Salcombe were awarded a second penalty. This time there was no mistake and in a classic of its type the Crabs rumbled over for Woods to touch down for the second time wide out to make the score 12-7. However the visitors quickly replied with a converted try to make the half time score 12-14.

The second half was an entralling but evenly matched affair with OPM adding to their score when the ball squirted out the side of their set scrum for their flanker to pick up and drive over. The try was converted to increase the visitors lead to 12-21. But Salcombe were not done yet and following another penalty and subsequent lineout they again drove over the line for 2nd row Kieron Clarke to touch down making the final score 17-21.