Sunday 8 December, 2019, by John Sprague
Billed as a top of the table match with Salcombe one place behind the leaders Tavistock, this was expected to be a tight game. In the event it was something of a romp for the Crabs who scored 8 tries and dominated proceedings throughout.
Salcombe set out their stall early scoring after 2 minutes from a penalty to touch, then using the catch and drive enabling Toby Woods to go over close to the sticks. Lee Clarke converted to make it 7-0. Salcombe were winning turnovers regularly with Marco Alfano-Rogers, Jay Hannaford and Finn Nicholas prominent in the loose. On 10 minutes Salcombe won a scrum in the visitors 22 which Alfano-Rogers playing at 8 picked up and forced his way over for 12-0.
The Crabs then went into one of their moments of madness letting turnovers happen as they watched the opposition rather than competing, lineouts went badly astray and penalties to touch were missed. Fortunately Tavvy didn’t have the firepower to capitalise on Salcombe’s waywardness and on 25 minutes Alfano-Rogers was put into space almost making the line before handing on to Will John backing up at pace for the try. With the conversion failing the score moved onto 17-0.
Just before half time Salcombe scored their fourth try and gained the bonus point. The Crabs won a turnover and the ball went again to Alfano-Rogers who unusually kicked long. Will John and Finn Nicolas followed up and hustled the Tavvy defender into spilling the ball which they secured before passing to Alfano-Rogers for the try which was converted to leave the score at half time at 24-0 to the Crabs.
In the second half Salcombe played with precision and put together some spectacular play with the backs looking superb as they moved the ball consistently through the hands. Tries came at regular intervals with the first resulting from a well timed pass from Charlie Rawlinson to put Schalk Herselman over in the corner for 29-0. Rawlinson was again the provider as the ball swept down the backs before that man again Alfano-Rogers was on hand to finish off and get his hat trick. Clarke converted from wide out for 36-0.
Next the forwards secured the ball and Toby Woods made a good run before passing to Rawlinson for the try – score now 41-0. The forwards clearly felt that they needed to have the last word and winning a lineout drove over for Woods to get his second which with the conversion gave the Crabs a 48-0 lead.
Before the final whistle there was just time for Mark Lidstone coming on at wing to make a try saving tackle and a minute or two later for Tavvy to get a penalty in front of the posts to bring up the final score of 48-3.
While Tavvy were weaker than expected this was nevertheless a great display by Salcombe who played some of the best rugby they have played this season or last. The penalty count was lower and there were many fewer handling errors. This week it is Merit Table again at home versus Saltash 2s, ko slightly earlier at 2.15 to allow for failing light.