Monday 25 February, 2019, by John Sprague
Having soundly beaten Kingsbridge 2s in the first half of the season, Salcombe were aware that the return might be considerably harder. What they hadn’t expected of a side that has struggled for numbers all season and has had to concede several matches was that they would put together a side especially for this match. Comprising almost entirely of former first team players of only a few years ago, this Kingsbridge side would not disgrace itself in Division 1 of the Merit Table. How the Kingsbridge 2nd team Manager must wish he had these players at his disposal week in week out but, like snow in June, the majority will surely melt away into comfortable retirement rather than commit to playing regularly for their Club. That said they demonstrated what a fine Vets side they could be.
Playing with speed and a general sense of urgency the home side were well organised and from the outset caused Salcombe problems. Hard tackling was not enough to stop Kingsbridge who regularly had spare players over as they moved the ball swiftly. Within 10 minutes they were 14–0 up but then Salcombe gained possession and forced play up into the home side’s territory. Awarded what was to prove one of many penalties, Salcombe opted for the kick at goal and were unlucky when Lee Clarke’s effort hit the upright. But maintaining pressure Salcombe were then awarded another penalty and went for the lineout and drive. When the drive was stopped the ball was quickly shipped down the line enabling Charlie Rawlinson to use his speed to touch down in the corner. The conversion failed but at least Salcombe were on the board.
From the restart the ball was well collected but instead of going for the simple pick and go with which the Crabs had had some success, they opted to run it from deep, were dispossessed and Kingsbridge got another try for 19-5. Luckily by now their kicker had lost his kicking boots and neither this nor any of the next 3 tries were converted. On the stroke of 25 minutes the home side got their bonus point try for 24-5 and Salcombe rallied to make a much more even contest and had several opportunities to score but success eluded them.
The second half started with a prolonged period of Salcombe pressure aided by the stream of penalties Kingsbridge conceded including 2 yellow cards, one just before the interval and one shortly after. Salcombe missed a couple of good scoring chances as passes went astray and in one of those changes of momentum Kingsbridge took play up to the other end and scored. Play was then fairly even but with a full complement of players the home side held Salcombe at bay comfortably and in the closing minutes they got a pushover try to bring up the final score.
Salcombe need to take this as a learning experience and reflect on the way basic rugby played to a pattern coupled with hard running gets results. Salcombe rarely looked threatening in attack but in defence Cooper, Trant, Hannaford, Wills and Woods stood out in a good team performance on the back foot.