Sunday 7 April, 2019, by John Sprague
Salcombe’s last 3 matches have all been away against much bigger clubs with second teams in the Merit Table, Kingsbridge, Tavistock and Torquay. The Crabs beat all three comfortably at Twomeads but clearly stung by that all 3 greatly strengthened their teams for the return match, Kingsbridge by fielding their Greyhounds and Tavistock and Torquay by borrowing players from other clubs; allowed under Merit Table rules and a lesson learned for next season.
Torquay took the field with no less than 8 sitting on the subs bench compared with their bare 15 who they mustered when they played at Salcombe. The Crabs travelled with 4 subs and it was agreed that the match would be played with rolling substitutions and it wasn’t long before Salcombe were rotating players to give everyone a breather on this large pitch. The early exchanges went very much Torquay’s way as they used their large forwards to maximum effect providing their pacy backs with plenty of ball. On a wide pitch first time tackles were crucial to keep the home side out and while in general Salcombe were up to the task, both Torquay’s first two tries resulted from the Crabs running out of players to defend. Thus after 15 minutes Salcombe were 0-12 down.
However the fitness of some of Torquay’s large forwards was not up to the demands of playing against Salcombe’s younger faster players and the rest of the half largely belonged to the Crabs. With play consistently in the Torquay half, Salcombe wasted several chances created by some strong running with Oli Masters, Marco Alfano-Rogers and Kieron Clarke prominent. Eventually Salcombe got their reward with Alfano-Rogers going over for the try which Lee Clarke converted to bring up the half timescore of 7-12 to Torquay.
Cue wholesale substitutions by Torquay and thus refreshed they set about trying to exert pressure on Salcombe who were now largely in defence mode. The Crabs had their moments and a good run by Matt Hurst took play deep into Torquay territory where his offload found Joss Dornan who almost made it to the line before being bundled into touch. Torquay responded with their big hard running centres carving holes in a tiring Crabs defence on three occasions to notch up 3 tries in the last quarter of the match for the final score.