Monday 11 February, 2019, by Oliver MastersIf Salcombe were looking for anything constructive to take away from this match then they would have to look at the first half only, after that the game descended into a bit of a mess albeit a high scoring one. The traveling Oaks team arrived at Two Meads a man short but were bolstered before kick off after Salcombe leant them one of their number and for the 15 minutes or so the game was very even. Plymstock seemed to have a strong functioning pack that caused Salcombe trouble at the set piece and a couple of times their centres picked out cutting lines to make good yards in the midfield. Their territory and possession was aided in part by some ill-discipline, notably a couple of high tackles which might otherwise be known as rugby collisions but were penalised anyway and Oaks even tried some creative options when exiting their own 22 which caught the defence off guard, running the ball out of defence and taking quick penalties to make good ground into the Crabs half.
All of the above makes the next 45 minutes of rugby so absurd, especially given the half time score was only 25 – nil and the referee finished the game 8 minutes early. To physically score that many points is a great effort and the list of try scorers read something like but not exclusive to Marco Alfano-Rogers,
Matt Hurst, Kieron Clarke, Lee Clarke, Toby Woods, Charlie Rawlinson, Will John, Oli Masters how many were scored by whom is up for debate but given that’s it’s a team game that doesn’t seem important. Positives to take away from the afternoon aside from the margin of victory and the nil score line are the set piece which had been a problem the previous week was this time very strong and tidy, so too the application of some players which again had been lacking the game before but this week was very sharp with loose balls being pounced upon, errant line outs being snaffled and some key turnovers in the tackle being effected. The negatives in so much as you can have any when scoring that many points would be the lack of discipline and structure as the game began to descend into its farcical conclusion, too many solo incursions were made without a thought for continuity of game play where it seemed training patterns had gone out of the window, too many penalties were conceded especially in the first half and too many tackles were missed. That might be seen as being overly critical as it is not every day that a team scores nearly 100 points (and surely would have done so but for the early final whistle) but when executing a structured game plan it is important to be precise and this on occasion control lacking in a way that better teams will surely exploit.
Notable performances from Marcus Bromwich back in his more accustomed position at scrum half managed the tempo well and made some good breaks with the ball in hand. The centre partnership of Drew and Wills spread the play nicely making full use of the width of the pitch, impressive with a combined age of nearly 80! The front row of Hannaford, Woods and Sinnott were solid all afternoon and at times played like the Fijian sevens team. Man of the match however goes to Sean Harding-Hodder for playing nearly the whole match for the opposition – never and easy task nor an attractive proposition but a role he gainfully undertook.