Thursday 6 February, 2020, by John Sprague
The Old Boys must be thanking their founding fathers who decided to open a branch of the school in Fiji! Their alumni have rallied round to help this proud old club to get out of the doldrums and in the process offer object lessons to the unwary on the benefits of running hard and straight.
With nine Fijians in the starting line up and six more on the bench Salcombe should have realised that this was not going to be easy but a lacklustre warm up was followed by 10 of the worst minutes rugby Salcombe have played for many seasons. Balls were dropped, passes went astray and tackles were missed. To compound the misery the rush defence was was missing allowing the big, fast Fijians to gain momentum and punch huge holes in the Crabs line. It was fortunate that at the end of this period Salcombe were only 7-0 down. It could have been twice or three times that score had not South Seas exuberance in passing led to their own share of mistakes. If they train and learn to work to a gameplan they could be formidable several leagues higher.
Fortunately for the Crabs realisation dawned that they were in a fight and that the Old Boys also had their failings, particularly against well organised attacks. Thus after a lineout, Salcombe drove for the line before Man of the Match, Kieron Clarke, took the ball on the 22 and demonstrated his own brand of hard running with a glorious side step to touch down under the posts. Brother Lee converted to level the scores. Salcombe now started to play better but were still were vulnerable to falling off the tackle and allowing in particular the Old Boys huge fast no 8 to make inroads. Indiscipline amongst the Fijians also cost them dearly as they were regularly pinged for a variety of offences. From one such Lee Clarke put over a fine penalty to bring up what seemed on the run of play an unlikely half time score of 10-7 to the Crabs.
The second half started almost worse than the first. A deep kick off by the Old Boys was totally mishandled by Salcombe who managed to throw the ball in touch well inside their own 22. A long series of scrums followed as Salcombe desperately tried to stop another score but eventually the big Old Boys no8 forced his way over and with the conversion Salcombe now trailed 14-10.
With 3 players injured and running out of replacements Salcombe had their backs to the wall. Jay Hannaford showed how to bring down the big men with a magnificent display of tackling and Jordan Tebb at centre was a constant threat to the Old Boys with the ball in hand. Pressure told and the Old Boys scored another well worked try for 19-10. Salcombe then worked their way upfield and following a penalty and drive Kieron Clarke touched down to bring the score to 19-15 to DHSOB. Another converted try for the Old Boys, their fourth and hence their well deserved bonus point, made the score 26-15 before the last play of the match gave Clarke his hat trick and a final score of 26-20 to DHSOB.