Thursday 26 September, 2019, by John Sprague
Salcombe managed to lose this warm up game despite having by far the best of the play in terms of possession and territory. Admittedly the Crabs were slow coming out of the blocks in the first 20 minute period but thereafter they dominated proceedings. They should have scored more but had a tendency to cough up the ball and enable the visitors to get out of trouble.
New Cross started well and soon had Salcombe defending, gradually pushing the Crabs back towards their own goal line. A clearing kick should have got the home side out of trouble but it was charged down over the line and with the ball bouncing awkwardly a New Cross player dived in for the converted try to give them a 7-0 lead going into the 20 minute water break.
The break marked the turn round in the balance of play and Salcombe spent most of their time in attack. The scrum was going particularly well dominating the tight and combining well in the loose to force play into the visitors 22. As ever Marco Alfano-Rogers was prominent but he was backed up with some bruising runs from Martyn Troupe making a welcome return after long term injury. New Cross conceded a penalty and Salcombe opted for the line out and drive approach which didn’t quite work as white line fever resulted in a sequence of play that could have been a training video of how to avoid scoring. Fortunately it ended with a ruck on the opposite side of the pitch from which Toby Woods drove over for the try which Lee Clarke converted.
Despite Salcombe continuing to dominate, the visitors collected a kicked ball well in their own half and a searing run from their no 12 took play deep into Crabs territory from which it was a mere formality for them to cross the line for another converted try to give them a lead of 14-7 at half time.
The visitors added to this score, again against the run of play, when they too opted for the line out and drive which they executed well for the try. Salcombe supporters facing the touch down were convinced that in scoring the visitors player had dropped the ball over the line but the ref was unsighted and could only give what he saw. 19-7 to New Cross.
Salcombe responded well and with the forwards rampant it was only a matter of time before they got their reward. A series of scrums were held up over the line before the ball was whipped down the line for winger Sam Atkins playing his first game for Salcombe to touch down wide out. Clarke’s kick only narrowly missed, 12-19 to the visitors.
There the score remained until the final whistle although the Crabs came close to an equalising try on several occasions.
Coach Neil Elliott can take heart from this performance where a number of key players were missing.The forwards looked good throughout and the backs had a look of business about them with Charlie Rawlinson orchestrating well at scrum half making his intentions clear to the rest of the backs. Schalk Hesselman at full back and Will John on the wing linked well together both in defence and in attack and looked a handy combination.