Tuesday 5 February, 2019, by John Sprague
Although minus 4 or 5 players due to injury and availability problems, Salcombe went away with 18 players who turned in a very solid performance against a side much improved from the first half of the season when they lost to the Crabs by over 70 points. Salcombe got five tries, two converted, and thus returned to the top of the Merit Table, four points clear with a game in hand on Torquay 2s in second place.
Salcombe kicked off and then couldn’t lay hands on the ball for the first five minutes as the Old Boys retained the ball well in a series of pick and goes. But Salcombe tackling meant that they didn’t get anywhere and the Crabs are getting used to playing against a lumpy pack in which a couple of runners are the main threat. Once the Crabs have sorted out who the runners are they are usually well marked and inevitably at some stage a turnover occurs. This was the pattern here and with quick possession from a scrum Liam Wills in the centre blasted through the home defense to score wide out for a 5-0 lead.
This was quickly followed by a fine individual effort by Charlie Rawlinson who skipped through a number of would be tacklers to score near the posts and with Lee Clarke’s conversion the score moved on to 12-0. DHSOB then put in a series of phases and were helped by several penalty decisions as Salcombe infringed at the ruck. After something of an arm wrestle on the Crabs line the Old Boys got the touchdown in a move that looked as if the ball had been held up but the ref was happy and the score moved to 12-5.
Salcombe moved play well up into the Old Boys half from the kick off and were awarded their own series of penalties. Opting to go for touch and the catch and drive Salcombe butchered a series of drives despite winning the ball cleanly each time occasioning skipper James Cooper to ask the ref to watch for the illegal pull down. After a few attempts Salcombe opted to move the ball from the lineout along the backs ending up in Mark Parnowski getting the try wide out for 17-5 at half time.
The second half was a rather turgid affair from the Salcombe spectators point of view as the home side did not look threatening but Salcombe couldn’t seem to find a rhythm to extend their lead. Problems emerged at the line out where Salcombe won all their own ball and some of their opponents but failed then to get the ball out to the backs cleanly and quickly enough. Clearly fed up with this Oli Masters decided to tap and go at a penalty and set up a move amongst the backs which ended up in Rawlinson getting his second try and Salcombe’s fourth for the bonus point.
The Crabs then made sure of things in loose play when Lee Clarke whipped the ball at speed to the on rushing Toby Woods for a try under the posts, 29-5. However in a total lapse of concentration nobody amongst the Crabs called for the ball at the kick off allowing the Old Boys to collect the ball and go over almost unopposed to bring up the final score of 29-10.
Salcombe never looked in danger of losing with everyone putting in good shift but outstanding were Wills, who managed 6 turnovers and Dan Sinnott who was everywhere in the loose tackling, carrying securely and always getting over the gain line while also having to prop against a much heavier pack.