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Plymouth Uni vs Salcombe (8-38)

Monday 25 February, 2019, by John Sprague

This was a much tougher contest this week compared to last week’s walk in the park. With a half time score of only 5-3 to the Crabs playing against a lively Uni side, nothing looked certain although turning round with the considerable slope and breeze in their favour gave Salcombe hope of better things to come.

The youthful Uni side started with the obvious intention of throwing the ball around hoping to wear Salcombe out in the heavy conditions. But with a few notable exceptions, you know who you are, most of the Crabs are as young as the Uni players, are fitter and have hard jobs which make them physically stronger than Uni students more accustomed to lifting Pot Noodles than crab pots. This really showed up in the number of turnovers that the Crabs achieved and the speed with which the Crabs grabbed the loose ball when the Uni’s passing went astray.

Once they had weathered the home side’s initial surge, The Crabs started to make progress, albeit slowly against both the wind and the slope. On half way a Uni kick was charged down, the ball recovered and after a good series of passes Marco Alfano-Rogers went over wide out. The conversion failed but Salcombe were 5-0 ahead. The Crabs then conceded a penalty before Matt Hurst set off on a bruising solo run before being tackled just short of the line. A kind referee might have allowed the apparent try as momentum but correctly the ref decided that it was a double movement. Salcombe contained the Uni well for the rest of the half but didn’t really threaten a score themselves but at least they had the slender 2 point lead going into half time.

The second half started well for Salcombe with the forwards, notably Kieron Clarke, Jay Hannaford and Dan Sinnott, putting themselves about to good effect in winning ball and Daffyd Bonar distributing the result to good effect with well timed pop passes to runners such as Toby Woods and Nick Trant. Indeed it was from just such a sequence of play that Trant scored and with the Lee Clarke conversion the score moved on to 12-3. The University replied with the best try of the match when in a perfectly executed backs move they rounded the Crab’s defence for a try in the corner. The kick failed but the Uni were now only 12-8 down.

Salcombe now took control of the match and from a lineout following a penalty they drove over with Woods getting the touchdown for 17-8. This was quickly followed by a fine solo effort from Alfano-Rogers which when converted moved the score on to 24-8. The gilt was somewhat taken of that player’s gingerbread however when he decided to exact retribution on a troublesome Uni no 12. Unfortunately for Marco the ref was slow to move away from the initial tackle and had a grandstand view of the resultant handbags resulting in a yellow for both players!

Kicking out of defence the Uni enabled Lee Clarke to catch and make a great run up the touchline before handing on to Liam Wills for the try wide out. Chris Drew then decided to offer a master class in goal kicking and landed a splendid conversion for 31-8. In the last few minutes Tom Hurst, brother of Matt came on as a sub and immediately tore through the middle of the Uni defence several times. On the last occasion he was almost over the line before handing on to brother Matt who gratefully fell over the line between the posts after struggling to keep up with his younger brother’s pace. Clarke converted and the final score came up.

The back 3 of Will John, Joss Dornom and Oli Masters were secure in defence and all 3 had good moments in attack as once again did Prawny at no 9. However Salcombe often look like 15 talented individuals in search of a plan and as the season wears on it is increasingly evident that they need a coach to give them structure.