Thursday 26 September, 2019, by John Sprague
As the result suggests this was a close fought affair with the scoreline just about reflecting the balance of play. The Crabs have played 3 Devon 1 teams in their warm up to the Merit Table season and the results suggest that they could certainly hold their own in that League.
In this match of four 20 minute periods OPM turned up with a squad of around 25 players and were able to ring the changes much more than Salcombe who had only 18. However fitness does not seem to be an issue for this young Crabs side who were going just as well at the end as they were at the start.
The first period had Salcombe playing against the strong breeze but down the slope and it was quickly evident that the Crabs pack was in fine form shoving their opponents back consistently and allowing the backs some good ball to make territory. While Salcombe were on the OPM 22 with the ball in hand they made one of their all too typical lash ups of handling which ended up with play moving to the opposite end of the field. OPM were mainly attacking through their forwards which led the Crabs to defend rather too narrowly. A quick change of direction and the ball was out with their winger who could stroll over unopposed for a 5-0 lead.
In the second 20 minute spell OPM changed both their props who had been given a torrid time by Jay Hannaford and Sean Harding-Hodder. However although the replacements were stronger, the Salcombe front row managed them well and on a couple of occasions lifted them off their feet. It is refreshing to see a Salcombe pack with power and aggression dominating proceedings. Anselm Lally and Kieron Clarke were a force in the loose with ball in hand and a good passage of play ended with Marco Alfano-Rogers scoring a well worked try which Lee Clarke converted to bring the score to 7-5 to the Crabs.
Playing up the slope but with the wind Salcombe couldn’t make the break through that they had been looking for. Play tended to gravitate to the Salcombe half of the pitch but OPM only once looked threatening when they kicked for the diagonal but their wing dropped the ball over the line. Frustrated by the Salcombe defence but wanting to win the match, OPM eventually opted to kick a penalty to bring up the final score.