Tuesday 26 March, 2019, by John Sprague
Tavistock were clearly up for this match against a Salcombe side who already knew that they were the SW2 Merit Table winners. But the home side, not noted for being eager travellers conceding walkovers on 4 occasions this season, decided to bolster their side with a few ringers. You can always tell by the variety of socks and players introducing themselves at the team talk before kick off. But this is allowed under Merit Table rules.
Salcombe kicked off down the considerable slope and were soon under pressure. Tavistock were throwing the ball wide aiming to get it to their hard running outside centre and wings. However the Crabs tackling was up to the challenge and both wings, Josh Dornon and Will John, made some crunching tackles to take some of the steam out of the home sides attack. With lineouts and scrums working well for Salcombe the potential was there to do some damage but poor decision making and wild passing ruined quite a few promising attacks. Salcombe must decide to calm down at times and play a few phases taking pods up the pitch rather than try ambitious passing and pointless kicking, not into space but usually into the hands of Tavistock’s capable back three.
However the Crabs did get a penalty with Lee Clarke striking the ball well from 35 metres out and went into half time 3-0 ahead but probably only there as a result of a try saving tackle from Will John in the last minutes of the half.
The second half went much the way of the first with Tavistock having the better of it in terms of territory but Salcombe’s tackling and domination of the set pieces keeping them in it. James Cooper and Dafydd Bonar ruled the lineouts and Toby Woods aided by his props made life tricky for the home sides scrum even taking one against the head, very unusual in rugby these days. But the inevitable happened and Tavistock eventually worked the ball to their 13 in space who shot through the Salcombe ranks at pace for the try which they didn’t manage to convert and put them in the lead 5-3.
In the dying seconds of the game with the Crabs inside the Tavy 22 their no10 tried to kick clear and was charged down by the Lemsip kid, Matt Hurst, suffering from a bad dose of man flu. The ref immediately blew for offside in what seemed a harsh decision to the Salcombe faithful but whether Hurst would have been able to run for the touch down in his fevered state is debatable!.