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Salcombe v Plymouth University

Tuesday 5 November, 2019, by John Sprague

Following last week’s decisive win over a strong Kingsbridge 2s at High House, the Crabs were looking to move on against an unpredictable Uni side who are capable of springing surprises on the unwary. The fixture was supposed to be in Plymouth but both sides enthusiastically agreed to reverse the fixtures and play at Salcombe under lights on Friday evening to allow watching the Cup Final in peace!

Inevitably the awful weather with pouring rain and a gale force wind had its effect on the handling and especially fielding the high ball but in the circumstances both sides did well with the Uni looking the more secure in this aspect of the game. However where they came up short was in matching the power of the Salcombe forwards and the pace of their backs with Chris Drew back at 10 orchestrating events and well served by Lee Clarke at 9.

Handling errors meant a succession of scrums and with Salcombe powering over the ball no matter whose put in it was, the Crabs had constant ball. Following a penalty Salcombe went for the touch and a good take enabled James Cooper to be driven over for the try.The conversion failed as did all but one of the other attempts as the wind made a mockery of kicking for goal. The Uni then put together some phases and were rewarded with a penalty for Crabs’ hands in the ruck which brought the score to 5-3.

Salcombe’s dominance in the pack led to two more first half tries, the first coming from a sharp move from the base of the scrum ending with ball coming to Sam Atkins on the wing for a well taken try. The second came from what the Crabs were doing best, rumbling forward with short passes amongst the forwards and ending up with a drive over the line with Finn Nicholas getting the touch down to bring up a 15-3 scoreline. However shortly before half time the Uni were forced to go to uncontested scrums and while the rules of the Merit Table meant that henceforth they had to play with 14 men, it destroyed the Crabs’ overwhelming superiority in the tight.

Playing with the gale behind them in the second half Salcombe went looking for the bonus point try which was duly provided by the reliable Liam Wills at inside centre making one of his trademark muscular bursts through the defence. This was followed by a steady stream of possession for the Crabs and a further four tries with two from Toby Woods, Cooper getting his second and Archie Trevarthen getting over the whitewash to bring up the final score. General opinion amongst spectators was that man of the match was Martyn Troupe for his aggression in both defence and attack with Wills a close second.

Altogether an excellent performance by Salcombe but with a very high penalty count against them, they might have been made to pay dearly against a stronger team such as Torquay 2s who they play away this Saturday ko 2.30.