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Torquay v Salcombe (20-18)

Monday 6 January, 2020, by John Sprague

9 Nov 2019
As forecast last week Salcombe’s penalty count was too high and often in situations when they were under no particular pressure. Thus good field position was lost and it was then the Crabs who were under the cosh. Their players must work out when the state of play warrants testing the ref’s powers of observation and when it clearly is stupid. Torquay’s winning try came from a penalty that clearly ticked the stupid box.

This was a game between two evenly matched sides both kicking a penalty and scoring three tries but with the home side converting one of theirs to make the difference. Torquay had a weighty pack but Salcombe’s was much more mobile and better at the breakdown with Jay Hannaford, Martyn Troupe and Toby Woods all securing turnovers. At the lineout James Cooper and Dafydd Thomas were in dominant mode and snatched several Torquay throws.

The game had barely started when Torquay’s strong runners burst through for their first try wide out for 5-0 with the conversion failing. Salcombe then responded with a move to gladden the heart of coach Neil Elliott who had spent a fair amount of the week’s training in preparing for it. Salcombe won a penalty, Lee Clarke put in a massive kick to take play to about ten yards out, Thomas collected the throw in and the pack drove over before Torquay could take it down with Hannaford making the touchdown to even the scores.

This was soon followed by a Clarke penalty in front of the sticks but some forty metres out and Salcombe led 8-5. Two more unnecessary penalties brought Torquay firstly up to 8 all and then another gave them a scrum five metres out which they walked over leaving the Crabs trailing 8-13. However Salcombe were then awarded a penalty of their own and set up to repeat their earlier effort. This time the home side were better organised stopping the drive so Salcombe spun the ball through the backs and from the resulting ruck Cooper charged over to level the scores at half time 13 all.

The first 20 minutes of the second half were scoreless and with play largely in the middle of the park. Salcombe then built up some momentum pushing the home side back mainly through their backs. A lovely move amongst the backs enabled the ball to come to Marco Alfano-Rogers who made the last 20 yards breaking a number of tackles on the way. With their tails up the Crabs went looking for the vital fourth try but instead conceded the penalty that enabled Torquay to get a try close to the posts which they converted to leave them 18-20 winners.

As ever the Crabs’ defence was good with Luke Williamson, Liam Wills and Schalk Hesselman prominent. Adam Bishop, Jordan Tebb and Kieron Clarke all made their mark on proceedings especially with the ball in hand.