Wednesday 20 November, 2019, by Ollie MastersSalcombe made the perilous journey across the Tamar following a close defeat to Torquay the previous week. With some tough love and a few home truths coming out at training the Crabs were eager to make a statement and move forward with their season that has already seen them slip to as many defeats in 9 games as they did in all of last one.
This was made a little more difficult when, on arrival it was clear the home side were way short of 15 players and that Salcombe would be expected to donate some man power or the game be declared a walk over and played as either 12 aside or with the Crabs holding a 3 man advantage effectively ending any contest before it began. To that end volunteers Will John, Sam Wilkins, Steve Moran and in the second half Schalk “Kolbe” Herselman should be applauded for the energy and determination they showed albeit against their usual clubmates.
The game itself was very much one of two halves which is not unexpected given the large slope that the pitch sits on and in order to try and take some initiative in the game Salcombe opted to play down the gradient in the first half. This appeared to be a good decision as more or less from the kick off Salcombe manoeuvred into a field position with Keiron Clarke finding himself with some space to score in the corner. A quick penalty reply from the boot of the Torpoint fly half brought the gap back to 2 points with roughly 5 minutes on the clock. As has been somewhat of a pattern in recent weeks Salcombe seem to descend into a period of poor discipline and were lucky not to get punished further after conceding 4 or 5 penalties particularly in the ruck, fortunately this shaky patch was able to be ridden out with a couple of further tries for the away team curtesy of Charlie Rawlinson and Anselm Lally. Rawlinson was unlucky not to get a second shortly after and perhaps if he’s been a good boy, for Christmas can he please have some of those rugby gloves made fashionable by Matt Dawson and Andy Goode please. Centre Jordan Tebb then claimed his first try in Crabs Colours with a robust run from near the half way line, breaking through a number of tackles to bring up a 21 point lead with a few minutes of the half remaining. Columba responded from the restart with some deft handling and frankly pure speed to score their try via their fullback with a successful conversion to follow.
Any concerns over whether a 14 point lead would be enough having relinquished the slope and playing uphill were answered swiftly and as tries from Lally, Liam Wills, Finn Nicholas, Geroge Wilmott and seconds for Tebb and Clarke, kept the home side starved of territory and possession as the Crabs superior fitness levels appeared to give them the upper hand. In reality the second half descended somewhat into a bit of a free for all with an injury to a Columba player meaning they were forced to play for some time with 14 men, that said they were unlucky not to score when John and Herselman combined well to nearly score against their teammates, coming up agonisingly short of what would have surely been a big punishment had they been successful.
Man of the match went to Centre Tebb for his strong running, meters made and two well taken tries. The other notable performances were from the 4 boys who put their hand up to play for the opposition who all stood out in difficult conditions and were arguably amongst their strongest players.