Sunday 27 January, 2019, by John Sprague
Plym Vic had had some good results recently including a comfortable win over Kingsbridge 2s last week and so the Crabs, somewhat weakened by player unavailablity issues, realised that this would be a stern test and were keen to repeat their win at Plym Vic in December where they also got the try scoring bonus point.
With a full gale blowing diagonally down the pitch clearly the weather was going to play a major part in the proceedings. Salcombe had the wind behind them in the first half and needed to build up a big lead as a cushion to withstand the inevitable riposte from the visitors in the second half. From the kick off Salcombe took play deep into the Plym Vic 22 and stayed there for about 10 minutes without result while the visitors defended well and gradually forced play upfield making Salcombe look unlikely to achieve the necessary cushion. However gaining possession in open play fly half Lee Clarke put in a shrewd grubber kick through his opponents onrushing backline to enable Luke Williamson to show a great turn of speed to win the race to touch down under the posts. Clarke converted for 7-0.
Plym Vic kicked off but was well caught by hooker Toby Woods who then raced up the wing and through the opposition tackles to take play well into the Plym Vic 22 before handing on to wing Oli Masters who crossed for the touchdown. Ckarke, who clearly had his kicking boots on, converted a difficult kick and followed it up very shortly with a penalty as the Crabs decided that going for the corner and rumbling over wasn’t going to work against a heavy visitors pack who had already demonstrated that they found it easy to stop one of Salcombe’s favourite moves.
With the score at 17-0 Salcombe’s supporters breathed a little easier as Plym Vic were clearly wondering how they had gone from looking the better side to being 17-0 down within the space of 5 minutes. Salcombe then capitalised on that when Clarke cleverly distributing the ball gave a sweet inside pass to Jay Hannaford who used his low centre of gravity to take himself under several would be tacklers before offloading to Williamson for his second try. The conversion missed but the score was now 22-0. Towards the end of the half as the visitors tried to force play upfield Kieron Clarke ripped the ball out of the hands of the Plym Vic ball carrier and showed his pace and strength to score wide out for the try which his brother converted to bring up the half time score of 29-0.
Facing the wind and without the pugnacious, weighty and hirsute Matt Hurst at no8 who had to go off with an ankle injury, Salcombe rearranged their back row to move James Cooper to no 8 and bring Williamson onto the flank. Now heavily outweighed in the pack Salcombe relied in the set on the speed of Woods’ hooking and the ability of Cooper to scoop the ball out of a fast retreating pack. Tackling was now key for Salcombe and with the back row prominent amongst whom Dafydd Bonar stood out, Salcombe stemmed the Plym Vic attack time after time. Eventually with the clock running down the visitors got their reward from an excellent forward trundle and scored a converted try to bring up the final score.