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Plymton Victoria vs Salcombe (0-36)

Thursday 26 September, 2019, by John Sprague

As the score suggests this was a comfortable win for the Crabs in their opening Merit Table match. Their line was never threatened until the last 5 minutes when a series of penalties enabled the home side to camp out on the Salcombe 5 metre line. But whether they went wide or took it up the middle, Plym Vic could not find a way through the Crabs excellent defence led as usual by James Cooper and Liam Wills.

Although having 5 subs available the Crabs’ side had an unusual look to it. All 3 first choice props were unavailable or injured so up stepped two heroes, “Papa” Darren Clarke returning after several years injury enforced retirement and former no 10 Chris Drew. Although Chris has considerable experience of playing second row, this was a new experience for him. Such is the spirit of Salcombe rugby and the Crabs owe a huge debt of gratitude to them both as they soldiered on to the final whistle rather than going uncontested. Indeed by the end they both looked comfortable against a big Plym Vic pack.

The Crabs started briskly and after 3 minutes were awarded a penalty which Lee Clarke, son of Papa, made the most of by booting Salcombe deep into the home sides 22. From the lineout the ball went through a few hands before Toby Woods piled over for the try converted by Clarke.

Salcombe were being made to work hard by the large Plym Vic pack and it was after another penalty and lineout that the next try came. The ball ran nicely down the backline before flanker Marco Alfano-Rogers took the movement forward with a blast of pace releasing full back Schalk Herselman to beat the cover and score the try which again Clarke converted for 14-0.

Herselman, who had also played well in defence, then got his second following a scrum. Again Alfano-Rogers made the run to set the full back up for the score which took some doing as the cover defence came across. He squeezed in at the corner and the score moved to 19-0 as half time was called.

Playing up the slight slope in the second half Salcombe put together a lovely passage of play with a lot of interplay between forwards and backs ending up with Alfano-Rogers touching down and Clarke converting. This fourth try gave Salcombe the bonus point and sensing that their opponents were running out of steam Salcombe’s play lost its cohesion as individuals tried too much on their own. Overlaps were ignored and speculative kicking merely gave the ball back to the home side.

However common sense prevailed and order was restored when Salcombe scored from yet another penalty lineout move. The ball was driven forward smartly before Plym Vic halted the advance 5 metres short of their line. Scrum half George Wilmott then took control of the ball and forced himself over the line to bring up 31-0 to Salcombe.

The last try of the game was a classic backs move as the ball moved quickly down to wing Charlie Rawlinson who scored wide out for up the final score of the match with the conversion failing.