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Salcombe vs Plymstock (12-8)

Monday 25 November, 2019, by John Sprague

As the score suggests this was a tight match between the second and third placed sides in the Merit Table. By securing the win Salcombe have opened up some clear water between themselves and third placed Plymstock although the Plymouth outfit have a couple of games in hand on the Crabs.

A pitch inspection in the morning showed the value of having the pitch spiked midweek as despite the recent downpours the surface was clear of water, if on the heavy side. This tended to favour the visitors who had brought a heavy pack which gave Salcombe a torrid time in the tight during the first half. But as ever Salcombe’s back row of Dafydd Bonar (got it right this week!) Anselm Lally and Marco Alfano-Rogers were great at the breakdown. This gave the lively Crabs backs with Liam Wills, Jordan Tebb and Schalk Herselmann prominent, enough ball to show that they were very much the more potent set of outsides.

The first half was scoreless but for much of it Salcombe kept Plymstcock penned in their own half. But although coming close to scoring several times Salcombe were kept out by a resolute defence. Both sides missed kickable penalties but in general the half saw an arm wrestle in midfield.

Coach Neil Elliott rightly resisted the temptation to make wholesale use of his packed subs bench for the second half and although players not used in the match may feel hard done by, it is clearly sensible not to upset the balance and rhythm of a side in a tight match. However the introduction of Chris Roberts at prop helped the Crabs get a measure of equality in the tight and with George Wilmott coming on at scrum half, the backs got much quicker ball. A lineout close to the Plymstock try line gave the Crabs an opportunity to put in one of their well practiced drives which allowed Kieron Clarke to crash over wide out for a 5-0 lead with the kick failing.

Plymstock almost immediately replied with a penalty for 5-3 as Salcombe went through one of their periods of madness giving away unnecessary penalties. But Salcombe always looked the livelier side with Tebb,Wills and replacement Luke Williamson all making strong runs. Not to be outdone by the backs Toby Wood at hooker waltzed and barged his way for 40 yards only to be brought down just 5 metres short. Shortly after Salcombe won another lineout from a penalty but instead of going for the drive they delivered the ball to Wilmott who seeing a gap shot through it for a great try under the sticks. With the conversion Salcombe were now 12-3 ahead.

The visitors hit back with an unconverted try in the corner to make it 12-8 to the Crabs but Plymstock buoyed by their try then put in a period of sustained pressure on the Crabs who defended well. Salcombe eventually cleared their lines and with one minute fifteen seconds to go were awarded a scrum close to half way. But in a previous move two Plymstock players had collided and were knocked out at which point it was agreed to abandon the match.

This week the billed Cup match at Totnes will not happen as Totnes have League commitments and it is uncertain what will happen in the Devon Junior Cup as the weather consistently intervenes. The most likely is that the Crabs will have a week off before a hectic December.